Festivals and Events

Up Helly Aa (January-March)
Up Helly Aa is a fire festival and a celebration of the isles Viking heritage.  The day involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch lit procession and Galley boat burning. There then follows hours of performing acts and dancing in halls tduring the evening and early morning. There are several Up Helly Aa festivals annually throughout Shetland, and although the Lerwick festival is the largest the others are nevertheless spectacular. The only Up Helly Aa date set in stone is Lerwick – the others may not happen each year and the dates may vary but the usual dates for all the festivals is shown below.

Scalloway Fire Festival – Second Friday of January
Lerwick Up Helly-Aa – Last Tuesday in January
Nesting and Girlsta Up Helly Aa - 10 days after Lerwick
Uyeasound Up Helly-Aa – Second Friday of February
Northmavine Up-Helly-Aa – Third Friday of February
Bressay Up Helly-Aa – Last Friday in February
Cullivoe Up Helly Aa – Last Friday in February
Norwick Up-Helly-Aa - Last Saturday of February
South Mainland Up Helly Aa – Second Friday of March
Walls Junior Up Helly Aa - Second Saturday of March 
Delting Up Helly-Aa – Third Friday of March

The Shetland Folk Festival is a non-profit, volunteer driven organization dedicated to presenting the best folk music from around the globe to the local community and visitors alike. Organised by a voluntary committee (and run by an even bigger pool of volunteers) the Festival prides itself in reaching out to even the most far flung areas of Shetland. Concerts are organised throughout the isles, consisting of some of the best International, British and Shetland music that the world has to offer. In fact, visiting artistes are regularly dumbfounded by the quantity and quality of local musicians that our remote isles have to offer.

Johnsmas Foy is a wide celebration of all things connected to and with, Shetland's unique culture and heritage. The festival still maintains close links to, and synergy with, its original maritime roots, together with promoting a range of entertaining and informative events aimed at all age groups throughout the community and especially of course the many visitors to the islands.

Flavour of Shetland is a major outdoor event showcasing some of the very best food, drink, music, craft and culture of Shetland on Victoria Pier in Lerwick.  Enjoy some true Shetland hospitality with the sound of traditional and contemporary music and the taste of the very best of Shetland food and drink. Take time to delve into Shetland's past and explore today's diverse crafts and famous knitwear.


The Creative Connections Shetland experience will let you take part in a summer school of your choice – opt into the cultural and storytelling tours with friends and family, enjoy the concerts and dances, and relax in the club. Or just select parts of the package to suit your visit to Shetland.

A celebration of the music and musicians that have made Shetland one of the world's most highly acclaimed fiddle playing regions. A must for all fans of traditional music. A marathon seven-day (and night) event, Fiddle Frenzy not only offers 'students' the opportunity to learn, and immerse themselves in, fiddle music Shetland style with some of our best and most famous tutors and musicians. Nobody is excluded. There is everything from 'absolute beginners' courses, to those aimed at more experienced players.

A popular fixture on the calendar since 1999 has been the fund-raising Big Bannock event, a fun day out featuring the baking of the Big Bannock (scone-type local delicacy), Merry Tiller racing and various other exciting events. It is an annual charity fundraising event held in North Roe since 1999. The name is derived from one of the events whereby a group try to cook the largest single bannock (an unleavened bread). The 2006 event raised over £18,000 for local charities. Each year Da Big Bannock team release a calendar and a DVD, with money raised from the sales going to charity.

Shetland’s annual Film Festival is curated by Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode. It features a feast of film screenings, lectures and panel discussions involving national and international film industry professionals and film academics. Screenplay also has a strong local flavour, provided by the work of local film makers of all ages and an increased commitment to outreach throughout the islands.

Wordplay Festival (September)
Shetland’s annual book festival has been running since 2001. Welcoming writers of local, national and international renown, Wordplay features a mix of readings, writing workshops, children’s theatre events and book signings offering a unique opportunity for readers and writers to meet with their favourite authors, hear them read their work and answer questions.

The Shetland Guitar Festival is a celebration of guitar with concerts and educational events held around Shetland in September each year. Known locally as the "Peerie Willie" Guitar Festival, the event is dedicated to the memory of the late Willie Johnson, the highly regarded guitarist who pioneered the jazz influenced accompaniment style now prevalent in traditional Shetland music.

Britains most northerly Blues Festival. Another Shetland festival that does exactly what it says on the tin, but rest assured of the widest possible range of ingredients and interpretations of the word 'blues'. Everything's on offer, from the laid-back meandering acoustic sounds of the Mississippi Delta - allowing you to sit back relax and enjoy - to in-your-face R & B that demands you dance or throw yourselves around, or indeed do both. The festival is largely based in Lerwick, but takes the occasional 'wander' out into the surrounding countryside for good measure. Many of the gigs take place in local pubs and clubs and are free of charge.

A series of concerts, supper and dances organised by the Shetland Accordian and Fiddle Club with visiting artists, celebrating fiddle and accordian music.

Shetland Food Festival (October)
Shetland produces some wonderful food: exceptional lamb, fine beef, superbly fresh fish and shellfish and some more unusual specialities such as seawater oatcakes, Shetland Black potatoes and more-ish fudge! Highlights include cookery demonstrations, a producers’ market showcasing the best of Shetland’s harvest from land and sea and other food-related events throughout the islands.

To coincide with the release of the first Thomas Fraser CD Long Gone Lonesome Blues, the Fraser family decided to host a special Thomas Fraser Tribute Concert, which took place in the Burra Public Hall, Hamnavoe, on the 16th November 2002. Following two further concerts in 2003 it was decided that the Thomas Fraser Tribute Concerts should become an annual event from 2004 onwards.