Scalloway Fire Festival is the first Viking themed fire festival in Shetland’s annual fire festival season, taking place in the first weeks of January . It is similar to the well-known Lerwick Up Helly Aa festival.
The Scalloway Fire Festival has a procession of torch-bearing guizers, accompanying a Viking longship (or “galley”) through the village from Lovers Lane, down New Street and onto Main Street, singing and cheering all the way to the Scalloway Boating Club slipway at Port Arthur. After arriving there, the guizers sing the traditional Up Helly Aa songs as the galley is launched into the sea, filled with the flaming torches the guizers were carrying where it burns in all its glory.
After the galley has burned, the festival moves to a variety of halls and venues in the village and the surrounding area where the party continues well through the night. Each “squad’ of guizers devises their own costumes and act to perform to the audience for this part of the event, often featuring topical themed events, and/or local characters, and the acts are either highly comical skits or well-choreographed routines. The squads start at different venues and travel in a fleet of buses from one hall to the next, so there are different acts in each hall at any given time. Many of the venues sell out well in advance.
The main Friday evening event is followed by a ‘hop’ night on the Saturday, open to all-comers and a “Guizer’s return” the following weekend, which gives the guizers the chance to see each others acts.
Fire Fest Clip