The Vikings are on the loose again, at least in Shetland! Here the Scottish islanders revel in reliving the Middle Ages—once every year. On the last Tuesday of January, local men dress as Norsemen, complete with axes and torches, to celebrate
Up Helly Aa, a traditional festival of fire. Carrying a long boat through the streets of Lerwick while gathering up to 1,000 paraders, the climax comes at the end of the journey, when participants throw their torches into the vessel, setting it ablaze in a spectacular offering to the gods of old. After the boys are done playing, the women rejoin their men in the local pubs, where the celebrating continues well into the night.