Up-Helly-Aa 2009

Fancy Dress plays a huge part in the event. During the parade the hundreds of flame-bearing Guizers dress-up in anything from the more obvious Viking costume to Men in Drag costumes. This event is now sometimes referred to and nicknamed as "Transvestite Tuesday" due to the sheer amount of men dressing-up as women in the parade and in the watching crowds in recent years.

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Viking Costumes

If you are heading north for this year's fire festival be sure to grab one of our Viking costumes for you to help celebrate the Norse tradition as authentically as possible. We've added a selection of some our outfits for you to help find your ideal Viking costume.

Transvestite Costumes

Due to the often overly flamboyant costumes and outlandish designs of many outfits on display combined with the vast quantity of men dressing up as women, the festival has garnered the title of 'Transvestite Tuesday' among some locals. If you are feeling the need to fit in take a look at some of our transvestite costumes below.

History and Traditions of Up-Helly-Aa

The Up-Helly-Aa festivals are believed to date back to 1881 but records have been found of all night celebrations being held in Lerwick all the way back in 1824. The celebrations are held to mark the end of the Yule season and the return of the Sun.

The day is well-planned and jammed packed for the main group called the Jarl squad and the squad leader Guizer Jarl. To become the Guizer Jarl you have to be elected by the Jarl squad and to be elected you have to be a member of the committee for at least 15 years. During the day there are many marches with pauses only for pictures and to sing praises for the bill. The main event is in the evening when the procession begins and leads the Guizers to the burning site where the Galley (Viking long-ship replica built by the locals for Up-Helly-Aa) is burned. The Guizer Jarl leads the galley down the streets with many hundreds following, all holding flame-lit torches. Once at the burning site the Guizer Jarl makes an announcement and then all the lit torches are thrown onto the Galley and a huge fire burns long into the night with everyone dancing, drinking and celebrating.

Think Fancy Dress Costumes, Think Up Helly Aa Costumes, Think Jokers' Masquerade

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