I am so excited to announce that my friends from Shetland, the 2016 Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad ~ with Mark Evans as Guizer Jarl ~ will be attending and marching in the 2016 New York City Tartan Day Parade on 9 April, and Whisky and Tartan is helping to bring them over and get them sorted!
I took an epic birthday trip to visit my friends in Shetland last January to experience the largest fire festival in Europe, Up Helly Aa. Up Helly Aa is an annual festival in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. It involves a procession of over 1,000 'guizers' in Lerwick formed into squads who march through the town in a variety of themed costumes.
There is NO postponement for weather, after all, they're VIKINGS!
Up Helly Aa proceeds through hurricane, gale force winds or anything else mother nature can throw at them.
In Lerwick, I was given a tour the galley shed where they construct the authentic Viking-style longboat all year long by hand (it's burned at the end). I saw the shields from Up Helly Aa past and met Jarls from other years. The dedication and heart they put into this annual event is enough to make even the coldest heart swell with pride.
Kids get their own Up Helly Aa procession, which takes place before the main event! The juvenile outfits are also hand made and unique to every single year.
After the burning of the galley, they proceed to halls to perform until the next morning! Every guizer is required to dance with a lady and take a dram at EVERY HALL. This lasts until about 8:00am (if I remember correctly). I was then 'lucky' enough to then party until almost 4:00pm the next day in Andrew's squad hut! Think you could hang?
Andrew and Andrew were my gracious and amazing hosts. The 2015 Jarl Squad and every single person I met in Shetland was so wonderful and accommodating. They showed me the VIP ropes of Lerwick Up Helly Aa, and for that I'm grateful. I'm even considering returning for 2016...
If you attended the NYC Tartan Day Parade in 2013 you'll remember the Vikings marching up 6th Avenue with their incredible handmade attire, swords and shields. Many of them had never been to America before. It was quite a site.
Photo: Andrew Hutton
Photo: Andrew Hutton
The Squad will arrive on Thursday and will no doubt make many appearances throughout the city before marching up 6th Avenue again in the NY Tartan Day Parade on Saturday 9 April, 2016.
With Mark as Guizer Jarl, I KNOW this is going to be an event you DO NOT want to miss!
If you would like to help the '2016 Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad' on their quest to pillage and plunder in New York City next April for Tartan Day, donate $1, $10 or even $100 to help them on their THREE DAY JOURNEY to the mainland!
(Just Click the Photo!)
Appearances/bookings/inquiries for the 2016 Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad