Scalloway Fire Festival kicks off Up-Helly-A’ season

The Scalloway Fire Festival got underway this morning, kicking off the season of Up-Helly-A’s across the isles over the coming weeks and months.

This year’s jarl, John Robert Umphray, leads the event portraying the historical character Harald Ericsson, better known as Harald Greycloak, who reigned as king of Norway from 961 to 970.

The vikings gathered at Scalloway Boating Club, visited the NAFC marine centre to prepare for the galley procession from Port Arthur to Da Waterfront.

They will visit local primary schools in Scalloway, Burra and Tingwall, and the Walter and Joan Graycare home in Scalloway.

John Robert is joined in the squad by his two sons, Lewis and Mackie, his father Allan and his brother Steven, with his bairns, and his uncle Charlie.

The squad is 45 in number with 29 adults and 16 children.

John Robert has been part of the Scalloway Fire Festival for 29 years. He was out the first time with his uncle Ian Umphray when Brian Watt was jarl in 1988.

In 1993 he was in the jarl’s squad again with Alan Shewan as jarl.

Asked what he was looking foward to the most today, John Robert said: “I’m looking forward to the procession, that’s the big thing, but really the whole day.”

The light up is at 7pm and the squads will proceed through Main Street to Port Arthur where the burning of the galley takes place at 8pm.


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