Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Few have heard of it, let alone been. Our destination is the remote Shetland Islands in the far north of Scotland for one of the most incredible festivals in Europe. On the last Tuesday of January, the town of Lerwick goes more than a little mad. Up Helly Aa is a lot more than a sub-arctic bonfire and booze-up. It's a superb spectacle, a celebration of Shetland history and a triumphant demonstration of the islanders' skills and spirit. Fifty horny-helmeted Vikings, a burning Norse galley and an all-night party. Unmissable.
- All accommodation (including berth on ferry)
- All ferries
- Transport on one of the famous yellow HAGGiS buses
- Your legendary local Guides
- Explore Lerwick and the Shetland Museum
- Try the freshest fish and chips you've ever had
Day 1: Edinburgh to Lerwick
Departs 8.30am. We head north to the ancient university town of St. Andrews and explore the famous 'Home of Golf'. It's then further up the east coast to Aberdeen, where we begin the adventure as we board the ferry and embark upon our voyage on the North Sea. This overnight journey, via Kirkwall in Orkney, will arrive in Lerwick the next morning.
Day 2: Shetland
We explore Scalloway, the original capital of Shetland with its mighty castle. We then spend time at the gorgeous beach at St Ninian's Isle. From here we head to Jarlshoff - one of Shetland's finest prehistoric sites. We then sample the island's southern scenery and sit amongst the huge bird population within the Nature Reserve of Sumburgh Head. There'll undoubtedly be some revelling in town with the locals in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities.
Day 3: Up Helly Aa!
The big day dawns! In the morning there's the Viking procession and a chance to have your picture taken beside this year’s 'Jarl' (Chief Viking). In the afternoon there's time to explore Lerwick and a chance to get warmed up with a dance! And then the evening kicks off with the Junior Jarl Squad procession, which is the youngster’s version of the full blown affair. After a torchlight street procession of up to a thousand ‘guizers’ (local performers), the festival reaches a crescendo as a full-size replica Viking longship is ceremonially burnt.
Day 4: Shetland
The next morning (or at the end of the night, depending on how much fun you have!) we will join the ‘guizers’ again as they sing away their hangovers. We then venture north to Hillswick and blow away the cobwebs visiting Eshaness and its awe-inspiring coast line. We'll then try some world famous fish and chips at Brae before heading back for another night in Lerwick.
Day 5: Shetland to Aberdeen
After a leisurely breakfast, we venture north taking in the ancient Tingwall Parliament and explore the Lunna area on the east coast. A return to Lerwick allows free time for last-minute souvenir shopping or a visit to the Shetland Museum before boarding the overnight ferry back to mainland Scotland.
Day 6: Aberdeen to Edinburgh
We'll pass Crathie Kirk where the Royal Family worship when at their Highland residence. We also visit the resting place of John Brown, ghillie to Queen Victoria and made famous in the movie starring Billy Connolly. We then make our way through the mountains and Royal Braemar on the way back to Edinburgh. Trip returns at approximately 5pm.
Wow - what a trip! Heaps of fun. Great people. Great times!