Up-Helly-A’ organisers ‘extremely disappointed’ to cancel 2021 event due to Covid-19 uncertainty

Another of Shetland’s Up-Helly-A’ festivals has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The Nesting and Girlsta Up-Helly-A’ (NGUHGA) committee took the decision at its annual general meeting last night, when it also agreed to ban “blackface”.

It is the latest in the number of Covid-19 cancellations – with doubts growing about whether any of the 2021 festivals will take place. 

Ryan Stevenson, speaking on behalf of the NGUHA committee, said: “The committee are extremely disappointed to have to take this decision, however, as it seems unlikely that we will be able to hold the event in its entirety in 2021, it was felt that it is better to postpone.

“The committee will meet later in the year to see if it is possible to arrange some form of alternative event, however this will depend on if the Covid-19 situation has abated enough to make it safe to do so.”

The event usually takes place in early February.

Other Up-Helly-A’s to have already been cancelled due to the pandemic, include Scalloway’s event

However, no decision has been taken yet over the Lerwick festival, with an announcement expected later this year. 

The NGUHA’s decision to ban blackface, followed a letter from Ellie Ratter, from Brae, who recently wrote to  all Up-Helly-A’ committees calling for it to be “eradicated” from the fire fire festivals. 

Mr Stevenson said:  “After consideration of her points the committee decided to update its ‘Guidance to Guizer’s’ document to make it clear that the use of racial stereotyping in NGUHA Squad acts is not acceptable.

2020 Lerwick Guizer Jarl Liam Summers has already said that the use of blackface will not be tolerated in the Lerwick festival.”





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