SHETLAND ISLANDS "UP HELLY AA" VIKING FESTIVAL
The rather bleak and treeless sub-Arctic Shetlands Archipelago is part of Scotland, located some 200 km northeast of the Island of Great Britain. With more sheep than people, the islands—16 of which are inhabited—come alive every January with one of Europe’s largest and most colorful folk festivals. Main Island is the largest isle in the Shetlands and it’s here that Lerwick, the capital town, hosts the fire festival known as “Up Helly Aa”. It is the largest of a number of fire festivals held throughout the Shetlands to mark the end of the Yule season and one of the largest such fire-centric celebrations in the world. Rooted in the ancient Norse heritage of the Shetlanders, the festival is an all-day series of colorful events that occur on January 30, 2018, culminating in a great procession of approximately 1,000 torch-bearing Viking-costumed marchers who toss their torches into a Viking ship replica constructed in the course of the preceding year with meticulous attention to historical nautical detail. Speeches, contests, junior parades and boisterous fun on the part of the citizenry also mark the day. Our 4-day dip into the old Norse world begins with the group rendezvous in Edinburgh Airport on January 29th. Two days to tour Main Island and its villages follow the celebration, and the journey comes to a close upon the return to Edinburgh on February 2nd. Not known for its balmy climes, group members should expect a cold, damp and possibly wet—but unforgettable—experience in the Shetlands.
Trip price is $1,590 per person, airfares not included. Accommodations are in a comfortable Lerwick hotel.