Lonely Planet Writer

Shetland celebrates midwinter Viking fire festival

Horned warriors are massing in Shetland for the annual Up Helly Aa fire festival.

Shetland VIkings celebrate Up Helly Aa.
Shetland Vikings celebrate Up Helly Aa. Image by Vicky Brock / CC BY-SA 2.0

A thousand men will parade through the streets before burning a replica Viking ship. The event is derived from the ancient feast of Yule, in which the Vikings celebrated the rebirth of the sun. Shetland, which lies 100 miles north of the north of the Scottish mainland, was colonised by the Vikings in the eighth century and only became part of Scotland in 1469.

Read more: bbc.co.uk