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Up-Helly-Aa, Scotland’s Viking Fire Festival

One of Britain’s most remote communities came together Tuesday to celebrate its Viking heritage with a spectacular festival of fire and fancy dress. During Up-Helly-Aa, hundreds of residents of the Shetland Islands off northern Scotland dressed up as Norsemen — complete with helmets, chain mail and axes — or in other fancy dress for a day and night of raucous partying. The high point of the festivities was an evening parade through Lerwick featuring 900 people brandishing fiery torches which sent a blanket of smoke and sparks over the port town, Shetland’s biggest.

At the centre of the procession was a specially crafted Viking longship, which was set on fire at the end of the procession when all the marchers threw their torches into it, creating a giant, intense pyre. Celebrations were continuing through the night as teams of “guizers” — the roughly 1,000 locals taking part in the procession — toured parties performing songs and sketches.

Read the original article at: AFP News

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