Shetland’s annual Viking festival of fire is taking place this week.
Up Helly Aa 2019 is being held on Tuesday, 29 January, and will be a huge draw for not just islanders, but visitors too.
Rowan Slaney, who is based on London, came up to Up Helly Aa last year and loved her time there.
She made a video of her experiences, and is encouraging everyone to make a visit to Shetland at some point in their life to experience Up Helly Aa.
She produces online videos, Learning With Rowan, and had a fantastic time producing a four-minute guide to the fire festival in Lerwick.
Rowan said: ‘I’ve always known about Up Helly Aa – I think my mum went about 20 years ago. I was feeling pretty down one day and complaining about things, and my boyfriend fixed it, there and then, and told me we were going!
‘Even though it was January, it was beautiful. We flew from Aberdeen in a small plane, and could see all the beautiful, wild, yellow countryside – it reminded me of Tasmania.
‘When we were at the airport, I spoke to one of the waitresses and told her we were there for Up Helly Aa, and within 10 minutes, she came back and told us we had tickets for the afterparty, and gave us a lift in, dropping us off at our AirBnB.
‘We were completely sorted before any fire started!
‘One the day, we got there nice and early, standing in the front row, so we could have a good view of it all. We could see the torches coming down the road, and the energy of it all was fantastic. It was magical – it’s really hard to describe.
‘What was really great was the people – they took it so seriously, but were having so much fun as well.’
Rowan added: ‘We were made to feel so welcome, which was amazing.
‘Afterwards, we went back to the halls, and sat back to watch everyone dancing. They all knew the dances, and I’d presume they were taught them in primary school, and it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Coming from London, it was amazing to be so welcome in this small community.
‘I couldn’t recommend it enough – everyone should have Up Helly Aa on their bucket list.’
Follow Rowan on Twitter @ClassicKitteh.