The 2021 Lerwick Up-Helly-A’ festival has been postponed until 2022, due to coronavirus.
In a statement, committee secretary Robert Geddes said they had reached the “extremely hard” decision to push the event back a year after discussions with key partners of the festival.
Mr Geddes said that the committee had a “responsibility” to the public to ensure their festival did not contribute to the spread of Covid-19.
“The festival going ahead in its current format would be difficult with any restrictions in place and with uncertainty surrounding what guidance would be in place in January meant there was no guarantee the festival could happen at all,” Mr Geddes said.
Originally set to be held on Tuesday 26th January 2021, and led by Neil Moncrieff, the festival has now been delayed until Tuesday 25th January 2022.
The Junior Up-Helly-A’ which would have taken place on the same day as the senior event is also postponed. A Junior Jarl would normally have been elected in September but that will not now take place.
We had hoped that Up-Helly-A’ would have helped the local economy kick-start after all this and give hope and something to look forward to, but there is too much risk involved.
Mr Geddes added that although it had been a tough decision, once everything was considered it was “easy” as postponement was the only “responsible” option.
He said one of the biggest concerns related to the halls, and hosts and hostesses had been consulted before the committee passed its verdict.
“We were keen to make a calculated judgment involving everybody rather than just 17 of us [committee members] around the table,” he said.
Although there had been some hope regulations might be lifted by January there was “too much uncertainty” about whether halls would be allowed to open their doors to welcome squads and guests. Under current guidance, that would not be permitted.
“We came to the view that if it could not be what it normally is, there is no point. It is a big party and if you are spoiling the fun, there is no point.
“We had hoped that Up-Helly-A’ would have helped the local economy kick-start after all this and give hope and something to look forward to, but there is too much risk involved.”