Women and girls to join Shetland’s Viking fire festival ‘jarl squad’ for first time

todayJanuary 30, 2024 5

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Women and girls to join Shetland’s Viking fire festival ‘jarl squad’ for first time

An annual fire festival in Scotland is set to have women and girls involved in leading its torchlit procession for the first time.

Up Helly Aa is held on the last Tuesday of January, and sees participants wear Viking-style clothing and carry lit torches through the streets of Lerwick, Shetland.

Vikings from the Shetland South Mainland Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad leading the torchlight procession through Edinburgh city…

The event is held annually on the last Tuesday of January. Pic: PA

Those who take part as Vikings for the day are known as guizers, all of which form different squads.

The lead group is known as the jarl squad.

The Jarl Squad set light to the galley in Lerwick on the Shetland Isles during the Up Helly Aa fire festival. Originating in the 1880s, the festival celebrates Shetland's Norse heritage. Picture date: Tuesday January 31, 2023.

The jarl squad setting light to the Viking galley in Lerwick last year. Pic: PA

Up until 2022, only men were allowed to lead the procession. But this year, 16-year-old Jenna Moar will be one of the first female participants.

She is the daughter of Richard Moar, the chief jarl.

Window displays in Lerwick town centre ahead of Up Helly Aa which takes place tomorrow. Picture date: Monday January 29, 2024.

Lerwick town prepares for Up Helly Aa. Pic: PA

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The organisation is run by a voluntary committee of 17 members, each selected by the guizers with one new member elected each year.

The festival starts with a parade at around 8.15am, followed by a second at 7.30pm, which ends with the burning of a Viking galley.

Written by: Newsroom

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