Organisers of Lerwick’s Viking fire festival have announced Up Helly Aa will be postponed for a second year.
The committee behind the event said that despite restrictions easing, uncertainty around the coronavirus guidelines has made planning for the fire festival difficult.
Organisers initially made the “difficult decision” to delay the festival until January 2022 following the first lockdown, but have now cancelled the event for another year – returning in January 2023.
Speaking of the decision, committee secretary Robert Geddes said: “Up Helly Aa as an event relies on numerous factors coming together at one time to be able run smoothly and safely.
“Planning for the event takes place a full year ahead of each festival and despite the best efforts to continue organising the festival through the various restrictions that have been in place to date this year, it is clear now that despite the release of further restrictions there isn’t sufficient time to run the event in its normal format.
“This will be disappointing news for many, particularly at a time when guidance is relaxing for Covid.
“Many questions remain however as to what life looks like for this type of event in the coming months and for that reason it’s unfair to put the responsibility on the hundreds of volunteers it takes to organise the festival.”
The date of the next festival will be Tuesday, 31 January 2023.
It means the last celebrations took place before the pandemic on January 28, 2020.
Thousands gathered in the centre of Lerwick to for 24-hour long celebrations as children marched through the streets and revelers partied through the night.
The event is popular with both locals and tourists who usually adorn horned hats and Viking attire with guizers throwing flaming torches into a Viking longboat and setting it alight as night comes in.
A virtual festival was held in 2021 as fire festivals were cancelled all over Shetland with a selection of squad performances from the past decade available to watch on Cullivoe Up Helly Aa’s Facebook or YouTube pages.