Stars lit up the sky as the evening procession for Nesting & Girlsta Up-Helly-A’ marched towards the burning site – and what proved to be an impressive blaze.
With 279 guizers taking part in the festival, Guizer Jarl Ryan Leask – aka Arnkel Einarsson – commanded over more torch-bearing participants than all 49 of his predecessors.
And he did so with great enthusiasm, waving and grinning at the hundreds who turned out to see him on board his galley Red Lichtie on a cold but still night.
The procession began at South Nesting Hall at 7.30pm as scheduled. It made its way south-west along the single-track road towards the burning site, arriving shortly before 8pm.
A healthy crowd lined the route, basking in the glow of the torches and yelling encouragement to friends and family in squads.
If the Jarl’s Squad leading the way were at all weary from their circuit of the schools, day centres and halls earlier in the day, they did not show it.
In fact, they were mightily strong in voice, belting out the Up Helly Aa Song with gusto and orchestrating a fine atmosphere.
Behind them, dressed in just about every colour of the rainbow, 18 other squads exercised their lungs too – even those who appeared somewhat hindered by Star Wars Stormtrooper masks.
Hailstones fired down for five or 10 minutes, stinging hands and faces. But even they could do nothing to dampen spirits.
At the burning site, the excitement was palpable. The galley – a sleek white, with blue edges – was about to meet its fiery end.
As it transpired, its destruction came very quickly. It did not take all that many torches for flames to begin roaring out the vessel and, in a matter of minutes, once everyone had contributed their piece, the Red Lichtie was eased into the water, well and truly ablaze.
The ceremony complete, all eyes turned to the halls. In a sense, the night was only just getting started…