Vikings set Scottish island ablaze with Up Helly Aa
Up Helly Aa, one of the most dramatic fire festivals in the world, takes place every January in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands, which lie in the middle of the North Sea around 400 miles (640 km) from Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Shetlands are closer to Norway than mainland Scotland and their residents are fiercely proud of their Norse heritage.
Some 60 ‘Vikings’ paraded on January 31 through Lerwick, Shetland’s biggest settlement, trailed by around 1,000 torchbearers known as ‘guizers’ – dressed in eclectic costumes, from superheroes to pop bands.
The procession ended with Vikings throwing their torches into the replica longship. Vikings, guizers and spectators braved torrential rain and high winds to witness the spectacle – but the residents are used to the harsh conditions in one of the most remote and exposed places in Europe.