For the past 100-odd years, gales, sleet, and snow have never stopped the town of Lerwick from setting the night on fire in true Norse style on the last Tuesday of January. It takes 364 days to make Up Helly Aa's elaborate costumes, Viking weaponry, 1,000 fuel-soaked torches, and full-sized longship. But on that one night of the year, Lerwick is like something straight out of an ominous movie set. Blazing torches or axes in hand, 800 seriously bearded and disguised men (guizers) follow the dragon ship past thousands of spectators in a processional through a blacked-out town. The 45 guizer squads sing traditional songs during the march, which culminates with the ritualistic burning of the ship. Then the burly men perform skits and dance routines, and the party goes long past dawn.
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