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In pictures: Spectacular Up Helly Aa festival returns after two-year absence

The festival is held on Shetland to celebrate the archipelago’s Viking heritage.
The festival is held on Shetland to celebrate the archipelago’s Viking heritage. The festival is held on Shetland to celebrate the archipelago’s Viking heritage.

Shetland was once again the setting for the spectacular Up Helly Aa festival as Vikings returned to the island after a two-year absence because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event, which attracts visitors from across the world, sees folk dress as Vikings to march through the streets of Lerwick in a celebration of the region’s Norse history.

The march is led by the Guizer Jarl, or Viking chief, who leads his Jarl squad on the march and culminates in the evening with a torch-lit procession and a replica longboat being set alight.

Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival The Jarl squad form a shield wall before the march (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival The Jarl squad pose with their longship at the harbour in Lerwick before the march through the town (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival Neil Moncrieff has the honour of being Guizer Jarl this year (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival The Vikings give a war cry as they proceed through Lerwick (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival Guizer Jarl Neil Moncrieff greets his Viking dog Tayla during the march (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival The Jarl squad make an impressive sight as they march through Lerwick (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival A mother and child join the procession as the Jarl squad make their way through the town (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival Youngsters take part in the Junior Up Helly Aa (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Jarl Squad set light to the galley
The Jarl Squad set light to the galley The Jarl Squad set light to the galley (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Jarl Squard take part in the torch procession
The Jarl Squard take part in the torch procession The Jarl Squard take part in the torch procession (Jane Barlow/PA)
Up Helly Aa festival
Up Helly Aa festival (Jane Barlow/PA)
(Jane Barlow/PA)
(Jane Barlow/PA) (Jane Barlow/PA)