With yellow eyes blazing, razor-sharp teeth and jagged red horns, the fearsome centrepiece of Up Helly Aa is finally ready for action.
Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Lerwick tonight for Europe’s largest fire festival.
Visitors crossed the North Sea in droves yesterday, ahead of the spectacular homage to the area’s Viking heritage.
An increasing number of international tourists, wearing woolly Viking helmets, added to the celebratory atmosphere.
The St Sunniva Street galley shed became a hive of activity as the finishing touches were applied to the vessel which will be burned at the climax of the event.
Four hardy men hoisted the boat’s 15.5ft mast into place, with the pole reaching the top of their lofty venue.
This year’s Guizer Jarl – the chief of almost 1,000 guisers – is 37-year-old Lyall Gair.
He oversaw the culmination of the work – which began last October – and revealed the ship’s name as The Falcon.
The design and dimensions of the vessel have remained the same since 1949, but every Guizer Jarl is allowed to create their own designs.
This year’s boat features some unique touches. The white beard, traditionally attached to the dragon has instead been coloured brown, with a fleck of white, much like Mr Gair’s own facial hair.
Meanwhile, its wooden motif represents Mr Gair’s career as a joiner, and recognises the years he spent helping to craft the traditional galleys before he became the prestigious Guizer Jarl.
Mr Gair said: “The wood ties in with my general theme, and I have to say the finish is pretty good.”
A shield affixed to the side of the boat features a cartoon drawing of Mr Gair and references his supposed similarity to a famous sci-fi character.
He added: “It has the slogan ‘let da wookie win’, because it’s a line from Star Wars about Chewbacca, with whom I share a likeness.
“I’m a big Star Wars fan, so I really like that.”
The costumes of Mr Gair’s Jarl squad of 58 men, 15 children and eight musicians have been designed to resemble the bow of the boat.
As for the inspiration for calling it The Falcon, he added: “I just think boats should be named after animals, and it goes with the wolf designs on our shields.
“Falcons and wolves are animals you would not want to mess with.”
Brydon Wright, 34, crafted the dragon head and tail during the past few months and said: “The whole boat is such quality, it’s beautiful.
“The maximum effort needs to go into it, that makes it more meaningful when it’s set on fire. It’s always worth the blood, sweat and tears.”
Galley foreman, Ryan Leith, raised some concerns about the anticipated wet weather affecting crowds.
But Stonehaven hairdresser, Joanne Acton, is celebrating her 50th birthday by attending Up Helly Aa with friends and is determined to enjoy the event regardless.
She said: “I’ve never been to Lerwick before, but this is something I’ve always wanted to see, it has been on my bucket list for a long time.”
French woman, Alexandra Besson, said travelling to Lerwick by ferry from Aberdeen for the celebration was “a great experience”.
The Jarl squad’s activities begin at 8.30am, and the main procession commences at 7pm.