Up Helly Aa
We stand with our hands pressed against the cold damp concrete and stone of the wall, glancing around in the dark of the unlit street waiting for the merest hint of the beginnings. A low gradual increase the amount of noise signals that beyond our sight something is happening and almost immediately the sky turns blood red, as if the arteries of Lerwick had been opened and allowed to bleed into the black of the sky. Soon flames spread, sphere to flaming sphere all moving by some invisible shrouded Brownian motion. The parade of Up Helly Aa made its triumphant way through the sodden streets, the river of flame marching past us, the clank of armour, the flash of flame reflected on steel.
Soon the Longship is pushed past, the Guizer Jarl aboard, his armour and sheepskin cloak shielding him from the weather and foes long forgotten.
The Longship is delivered by willing hands to the centre of the park and gradually the thousand flames form a surging circle around the central pivot of the intricately painted and doomed vessel. Speeches are said, their words carried away on the wind and as one the flaming torches are cast into the ship which is soon roaring and crackling, sending showers of sparks far into the night.
Smoke issues from the mouth of the dragon figurehead as slowly the flames lick the silver paint and eventually with a cheer from the crowd, the dragon collapses into the embers.
Photographs of Up Helly Aa 2010 can be found here: