Lerwick Prepares for Up Helly Aa

So flute lesson today and then on to town as per usual.

We needed to buy horse, sheep, cat, dog and people food (in that order, too).

We walked up and down Commercial Street to see the superb shop window Up Helly Aa (the Lerwick Viking annual fire festival) displays.

Almost every shop makes a huge effort and it is fascinating.

There is much diversity. Yes, there is the obvious Viking theme but it is amazing what you can put in a galley!

The outfits are incredible.  Many of the displays feature costumes from previous Jarl Squads.


And the accessories!  The beautiful shields, buckles, axes, etc….. Such workmanship.

Outfits from the Junior Jarl Squads.

And yes, we still feature.  Amongst the Up Helly Aa kit was us on a teatowel!

There are obviously different approaches to Up Helly Aa…..

You can even knit your own galley if you want.

This is the Red Cross shop window.

Home of the knitted Viking helmet.

Even a Fair Isle knitted bottle cover for your beer

Or your gin.  You choose!

At every Up Helly Aa, there is The Bill. It contains mostly local in jokes.

This made me smile!

And The Hand in the Galley? – well apparently legend has it that two Viking Jarls both saw Shetland at the same time from their galleys, whilst searching for land.  The winner would be the first one to lay his hand on the soil.  So, one fearing he was losing the race, cut off his hand and hurled it onto the beach, thus winning the race and ownership of Shetland.

Up Helly Aa started in the 1880’s.  Cancelled for a couple of wars and the death of Queen Victoria, but it is always held on the last Tuesday of January.

If you want to know more about Up Helly Aa, I recommend this website – http://www.uphellyaa.org/






8 thoughts on “Lerwick Prepares for Up Helly Aa

  1. Cathy

    Wow, what fabulous displays in all those shops, and a glimpse of certain ponies sporting knitwear. Will you be joining in too? Have a wonderful time if you do.

  2. Sally Richmond

    Amazing workmanship, those clothes and shields! Love the sense of humour too and good to see the Shetland ponies contribution.

  3. Linda

    Those Viking outfits are such works of craftsmanship – really amazing!
    (I’m reading a mystery series based in the Shetland Isles and watching Vikings on TV, so this post is perfect to me – brings home the reality of both)
    It sounds like the Up Helly Aa is such a fun festival!!!

  4. louise Stopford

    Lerwick looks such a nice place – is it far for you to travel from your home? The shop displays are marvellous and the history behind it is so interesting. What an excellent post!!

  5. Sam

    So – do all your ponies get Viking Helmets? I mean, afterall, some girls got sweaters….why can’t boys dress up as Vikings? Or Lamb Vikings? Inquiring minds across the pond want to know.

  6. Terri

    Thanks for this peek at “Life in Lerwick.” I especially liked the statement from the website link you provided:
    “The following Wednesday is a public holiday in Lerwick to allow for recovery.”
    Loved seeing your ponies in cardigans in the shop window!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *