A break to stunning Shetland

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Puffins at Sumburgh Head, Mainland, Shetland

I recently stumbled across a great little article written by David Walsh for i-on Magazine about a break to Scotland’s magical Shetland isles.

David’s talks of Shetland’s proud devotion to tourism and celebrating their unique blend of Scandinavian and Scottish roots through festivals held throughout the year. Here are 3 must see festivals that take place on Shetland every year:

  • Up Helly Aa (January) – Taking place on Lerwick, this is billed as Europe’s largest fire festival and guaranteed to brighten up the January blues. The main event begins with a torchlight procession (with guys dressed in traditional Norse warrior outfits) through the town centre with a blazing Viking long ship pulled behind them. The long ship is taken to a burning site, where the torchbearers throw their torches into the long ship which is soon consumed in a spectacular blaze.
  • Shetland Folk Festival (May) – Shetland’s iconic folk music festival takes place at the cusp of summer, with world class live music sessions organised throughout the isles.
  • Screenplay Film Festival (August) – As the Guardian describes it, ‘There cannot be many other film festivals where, between screenings, you can step out of the cinema and watch a seal swimming or a gannet diving’. I think that is reason enough to make the trip to Britain’s most northerly film festival!

David perfectly sums up the natural wildlife and wonders you can see in Shetland depending on the season you visit:

During the summer months where the sun barely dips below the horizon, colonies of grey seals return each year to the shore’s edge. On cold winter nights with clear skies, fortunate guests have the ideal viewing platform to perhaps spy the Mirrie Dancers as they’re known locally; the Northern Lights.

Speaking of the Northern Lights, we found a great photo time-lapse video on Vimeo featuring the Northern Lights which were spotted earlier this year in Shetland near Maywick beach:

Haven’t made a trip out to the Northern Isles yet? Learn more about things to see and do in Shetland or find out how you can get there.

James Boyle

James is the Assistant Search & Social Media Manager at VisitScotland. Originally from Australia, he now lives in Edinburgh and enjoys travel, rugby and perfecting the art of making pancakes.

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