top of page
The Viking's Sheepskin

Up Helly Aa

Jan 28

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

The Viking's Sheepskin

Up Helly Aa can refer  to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the Yule season.   The largest festival takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January. 


Celebrations involve a series of marches and visitations, led by the "Jarl," culminating in a torch-lit procession, at the end of which, the torches are thrown into a replica of a Viking longship or galley.


The name of this festival derives from the Old Norse words which translate to "the end of the holidays."

The current Lerwick celebration grew out of an older Yule tradition of tar barrelling.   Squads of young men would drag barrels of burning tar through town on sledges, making mischief.  After the abolition of tar barrelling (1874–1880), permission was obtained for torch processions, which first took place on Up Helly a day in 1881.  Galley burning was introduced in 1889. 


Click the Up Helly Aa circle procession for the official Up Helly Aa site. 


And for a recipe for Shetland bannocks, click here.

The Viking's Sheepskin
The Viking's Sheepskin

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

WELCOME TO An Entertainment Site for Scottish Country Dancers - Enjoy the curated selection of theme-related dances for celebrations and holidays, or find a dance associated with a special calendar day, or EVEN your own birthday!  

bottom of page