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Thousands celebrate Up Helly A on Shetland

It is the most eagerly awaited night on Shetland's calendar. The burning of a replica Viking long boat after a torchlit procession led by modern day Norsemen.

The Up Helly A finale
The Up Helly A finale

Thousands of people converged on Lerwick for the annual Up Helly A festival tonight.

Only a handful of the processions and ritual burning of a long boat have not gone ahead since the festival began in the 1880s.

The torchlit parade through the Lerwick drew thousands of people from around the world and marked the grand finale to a day of activities that traditional takes place on the final Tuesday of January.

They are led by bearded Jarls - the Scandinavian word for chieftan - who dress in traditional Nordic costumes.

Fears that the recent storms could return to scupper the event also proved misplaced.

Event organisers shrugged off the recent storms as the latter-day Vikings put heart and soul into making it another resounding success.

Speaking before the event, Andy Steven of Promote Shetland said it was a real community event which was being improved upon year by year.

Tens of thousands of people also watched a live web cast.

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