WATCH: Up-Helly-A’ 2018 – Shetland Times blog

Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson at Gletness Beach. Photo: Kevin Osborn


Once Tuesday’s procession had been completed and the galley sent up in flames, the squads took to the halls of Lerwick to perform their carefully choreographed acts.

From re-enactments of national news events to witty takes on local stories, the night’s entertainment ensured the gathered guests were in high spirits until the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Watch the video below to see a selection of the 47 acts which took to the floor in Mareel.


Hundreds of flaming torches lit up the streets of Lerwick tonight as Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson lifted his axe aloft to booming cheers from the guizers.

Despite the weather being a little chilly, there was little in the way of wind and rain for the senior procession.

A fiery red glow summoned the light up as flames licked down the ranks.

Giant eagles, to superheroes, Vikings to the cast of Grease, tonight’s celebrations are sure to have plenty of laughs.

Embers whipped around the towering galley which was soon engulfed in flames and guizers dispersed into the night to carry on the festivities.


The big finale to the day’s festivities is really drawing close now, with the Junior procession now complete.

Junior Jarl led his band of young guizers along a shortened route from the Hillhead to the burning site, watched by Stewart Jamieson’s senior Jarl’s Squad.

Sonny, portraying young King Haakon Longlegs, and the rest of the guizers were in fine voice putting on a spectacular show for the hundreds of spectators who braved the rain to watch the spectacle.

You can watch the bairns in action below, a nice little taster for the main event now less than an hour away!


There were laughs, cheers and applause as council convener Malcolm Bell addressed the crowd at Up-Helly-A’s civic reception.

Mr Bell welcomed visitors to the packed town hall, insisting the recently restored windows told a story of Norse heritage, with “no tartan or Caramel Wafers in sight”.

He commended former jarl Rae Simpson for the work he did on the restoration project.

Insisting the town hall was something to be proud of, he called on male visitors in particular to remember the sign at the toilets that said “wet floor” was a warning, and not an instruction.

Drawing on recent events, he said the council was in the process of setting up its own airline, which he said – with a wry smile – would serve under the name AirSIC.

Joined by the Depute Lord Lieutenant, Jim Budge, Mr Bell welcomed visitors from Panasonic, who had come all the way from Japan.

Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson was delighted to finally be enjoying the big day after years of anticipation.

“It’s with great pride that I stand here as Guizer Jarl. For as long as I can remember, Up-Helly-A’ has been a great part of my life. It is an honour to lead this fine squad.”


Up-Helly-A’ pulls in visitors from across the globe. And with a sea of phones and video cameras many took the opportunity to get a quick snap of the Jarl’s Squad at Alexandra Wharf. Crowds filtered down from Commercial Street after following the procession down towards the Market Cross, where this year’s bill has been erected.

A documentary crew from Paris had gathered as had fellow reporters and photographers.

Lindsay Selmes had travelled north from Edinburgh to enjoy the festivities. This year is her first Up-Helly-A’, and she was taken by the level of detail of the suits.

Global appeal. Franziska Droll (Germany), Lori Yokomoto (Hawaii), Lindsay Selmes (Edinburgh) and Elizabeth Wong (Edinburgh). Photo: Adam Guest.

“It’s more realistic than what I thought,” she said.

“They look like actual Vikings. It doesn’t look like an actual costume.”

Meanwhile Lori Yokomoto from Hawaii had stopped off in America before heading to Shetland.

“I discovered it [Up-Helly-A’] in April,” she smiled.

“It was on my list since from April. As soon as I found out about it I thought ‘I have to do this'”.

Lindsay said they had a copy of the words for the Up-Helly-A’ song too and they were heading to Bell’s Brae school tonight after the procession.


Thousands of people lined the streets for the first glimpse of the Jarl’s Squad and the galley Blaze Away. 

Sausage rolls were snapped up by hungry Vikings and visitors at the Lerwick Legion before heading towards the pier.

Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson was up bright and early this morning with some of his neighbours arriving about 6am with torches.

He has visited the galley builders and the torch makers to thank them for all their hard work before meeting the squad at Islesburgh.

And despite a bit of a rainy start Mr Jamieson was thoroughly enjoying the morning.

“With Up-Helly-A’ you just have to take the weather as it comes. The boys are in good spirits and we’re not wet. The cloaks are keeping us dry and it’s not been cold either,” he said.

There were a few nifty dance moves too for the squad medley, with a wiggle and few turns. Jenny Teale has helped out with dancing, Mr Jamieson said.


Here are a few photos from the procession as the Jarl’s Squad headed into Lerwick for singing at the Market Cross.




The excitement was building early this morning as youngsters and visitors picked their spot on the balcony ready for the arrival of Stewart Jamieson and his axe-pumping Vikings at the Toll Clock Shopping Centre.

The Jarl’s Squad musicians reeled off toe-tapping tunes next to the Olive Tree cafe with the smell of bacon tickling the nostrels.

Distant roars drew closer and the galley came into sight – between the heavy rain running down the windows from the downpour.

About 50 vikings filled the floor. And they were most definitely in the mood for a sing-song. Young and old joined in the Up-Helly-A’ song before a rendition of a chart hit by the Black Eyed Peas and Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over The World.

Mr Jamieson thanked the businesses at the shopping centre for supporting the festival before presenting a placque on behalf of he and his squad.

Not to be put off by the poor weather a quick burst of Singing in the Rain followed as the squad waited to head to the next stop at the Royal British Legion.



There were bleary eyes and a few yawns as the Up-Helly-A’ Jarl’s Squad members gathered in the Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick for breakfast.

But after bacon rolls, cups of coffee and a quick blast of the strengthening the southwesterly wind the squad was in fine voice as they set off for the morning procession.



Looking superb in their suits, which feature embossed leather breast plates, an embroidered woollen cloak and intricate carving on the helmets, shields and axes, the guizers set off to collect the galley Blaze Away. Next pit stop was Bolt’s shopping centre for the first official airing of the squad’s song.

There was plenty of rain as the squad made its way along St Sunniva Street but nothing is going to take the shine off the day for Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson and hs squad.


On behalf of the Association of Ex Jarls, chairman Peter Malcolmson (centre) presents a Raven Banner to ex-jarl Ronnie Gair (left), chairman of Lerwick Port Authority. The flag will be flown on Up-Helly-A day in memory of former port authority chairman Harry Jamieson (also an ex- jarl). Looking on is this year’s jarl Stewart Jamieson (right), son of Harry Jamieson. Photo: John Coutts


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