Thursday, 8 January 2009

Up-Helly-Aa & Fancy Dress Costumes

Up-Helly-AaUp-Helly-Aa Fire Festival
I must confess that I did not know about the Up-Helly-Aa festival and only found it when looking for fancy dress events in 2009. For those of you who don't know about it the main Up-Helly-Aa festival is held on the island of Shetland in the town of Lerwick every year on the last Tuesday of January to mark the end of the yule season. There are other similar fire festivals held on Shetland, mostly during the middle of winter, but the Lerwick one is the largest.

The Up Helly Aa festival consists of a procession of up to a thousand guizers wearing mostly Viking costumes who march through the town. As well as these official "vikings" the many visitors dressed in all sorts of costumes also join the march (I have seen a chicken costume and even a buzz lightyear costume on a You Tube video.) The main main guizer of the festival is known as the "Jarl" which is a very prestigious position and can only be achieved by being part of a committee for at least 15 years. This committee then elects the "Jarl" with only one being selected every year.

This procession then ends with everyone then throwing their lighted torches onto a replica of a Viking ship, to form the huge bonfire. The party is then said to continue on well into the early hours of the morning, so much so that even in 1824 a visiting Methodist missionary said that "the whole town was in an uproar: from twelve o clock last night until late this night blowing of horns, beating of drums, tinkling of old tin kettles, firing of guns, shouting, bawling, fiddling, fifeing, drinking, fighting. This was the state of the town all the night - the street was as thronged with people as any fair I ever saw in England."

Fancy Dress ideas for Up Helly Aa fire festival
even though I mentioned earlier that in some of the photographs and videos that you can find on Up-Helly-Aa, there are people dressing up in all sorts of fancy dress and Halloween type costumes, I think it would be fun to stick a little with the tradition of this island that sits almost exactly at the centre of a triangle, with Norway, Faroe and Scotland and thus has a very strong Viking connection.

sexy Helga Viking CostumeViking Costumes
After a quick search I found loads Viking costumes, from the pretty realistic deluxe versions to the cheaper funny costumes. Ladies, the good news is that there are also plenty of female Viking costumes, with the sexy Helga Viking Costume being my particular favourite.

thor viking costumeThor Costume
A Thor costume would also make a great costume for Up-Helly-Aa, even though Thor was the god of thunder, there must be lightening with thunder and where there is lightening, there is often fire, so the perfect costume for a Viking fire festival!

Obelix and Asterix Costumes
Another idea that I feel could be quite fun is to dress up in some of the most famous Vikings of all: Obelix and Asterix and the good news is that there are both commercial Obelix costumes and Asterix costumes available!

For more information on Up-Helly-Aa:
The official Website of the Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa Committee
Up-Helly-Aa Page on Visit Shetland

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