Saturday, 9 January 2010
What an amazing introduction to Up Helly aa. Scalloway kicked off the fire festivals last night with the first of them. It was quite brilliant and you certainly got caught up in the spirit of it all. A flare was sent up to signify the start of the procession and the street lights were all put out. The smell of parrafin filled the air before the torches were lit and the procession set off around the small town and along the waterfront. Various squads of "guizers" (people dressed up) marched behing the Yarls squad (dressed as vikings)They were all led by a brass band and a pipe band. Chanting and singing and we all followed along to the boating club and slipway where the Galley was set down. The squads did a curiuos formation march amongst themselves chanting and singing, then squad by squad they threw their torches onto the Galley. As it caught light it was launched into the sea and burnt away there. People then began to disperse.many would have been going on the one of various "Halls" where food and warm drink awaited. (bring your own booze for most of the Halls)Dancing and music throughout the night as each squad calls in to the hall to perform its own little sketch or small play (based on the particular costume they had dressed up in this year.
All quite brilliant, and to think that I had wanted to be at Up Hellya since I was about 9 thanks to Blue Peter! The Lerwick one later in the monnth is of course the more famous festival and also the largest of its kind in Europe, with over a thousand torches very often. (Saclloway had around 100 I am told last night)