19th July 2018
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WATCH: Crowds lap up Scalloway Fire Festival 2018

“Burn, baby, burn!” shouted a child, brimming with excitement, as flames began to roar out of the galley Jörmungandr.

Scalloway Fire Festival is the highlight of the year for many residents of the village – but it is the children above all who lap up every second of the night’s events.

Shortly after 7pm this evening (Friday), the wind whipping at exposed skin, the street lights were extinguished.

Providing illumination in their place were well over 100 torches, held aloft either side of the galley by the Jarl’s Squad and high-spirited guizers, many of them in fancy dress.

Guizer Jarl Leslie-Wills Setrice – otherwise known as Ragnar Sutrika Lothbrok (his Viking name for the day) – stood proudly inside the longship as it charged forward in the direction of Port Arthur.

As he bellowed towards the crowds, Mr Setrice looked every inch the real-life Norse raider.

Having started at the foot of Lover’s Loan, the procession took a right turn and followed New Road down towards the roundabout. There, it swung right and continued along Main Street.

The pavements heaved with bodies, young and old, hungry for their next sight of the galley.

When it emerged once again, the Up-Helly-A’ Song was still being given a full-blooded airing.

And so it continued as the procession marched on. Another 10 minutes and it had arrived at its destination.

On the sidelines, many a smartphone was hurriedly cleared of old photos to ensure nothing would get in the way of capturing the climax of the night.

Anticipation was ramping up as the guizers engaged in a final orchestrated flourish outside Scalloway Boating Club.

Then, at around 7.30pm, the galley was eased into the water. Lying on the hill overlooking the scene, young children yelped with joy as the torches were hurled into the vessel.

It did not take long for the flames to build up momentum and the Jörmungandr was soon a fireball gliding through the water, led by its dragon head.

At around 7.50pm, the crowds began to thin out as revellers prepared to continue the night’s merriment in the warmth of public halls.

About Andrew McQuarrie

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