Showcases / Mareel celebrates Lerwick’s Up Helly-Aa

Sandy Nelson.

Mareel is gearing up to celebrate its first ever Up Helly Aa, this month, with a series of excellent UHA events including:

  • Fiery Sessions, Shetland Arts’ annual Up Helly Aa day concert showcasing local musicians Vair and Kaela Jamieson and John Hutchison,

  • Stand Up Helly Aa, Shetland Arts’ annual stand up comedy show featuring John Gavin, Paul Pirie, and compered by Sandy Nelson,

  • and the first ever Up Helly Aa Hop in Mareel with DJ Tam Coyle, which is sure to keep the party going until the early hours.

Tam Coyle has DJ’d at a myriad of high profile events including T in the Park and the official Hogmanay parties in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s George Square, and Stirling Castle.

He has also provided a soundtrack for the Tartan Army manoeuveres across the globe, and has appeared at the prestigious SXSW music event in Austin, Texas.

Having kept local crowds dancing into the small hours at the Tall Ships in Lerwick last year, Tam returns to DJ at the first ever Up Helly Aa Hop in Mareel.


With the assistance of one of the noisiest and liveliest crowds he’s ever encountered, he aims to keep the party going with a set to be enjoyed by everyone from 18 to 81.

At Fiery Sessions, audiences are invited to start off their Up Helly Aa celebrations with an afternoon concert from some of Shetland’s best traditional musicians in Mareel.

The 2013 bill for the concert includes one of the brightest new additions to Shetland’s folk scene, Vair, featuring Ryan Couper, Jonny Polson, and the Peterson brothers, Erik and Lewie, who are sure to get feet stomping.


The bill also includes duo Kaela Jamieson & John Hutchison; consistently popular and a must-see act.

John Gavin

People can also come along to Mareel after the procession to warm up with Stand Up Helly Aa – a belly-busting bill of great comedians, featuring John Gavin, Paul Pirie, and compered by the always hilarious Sandy Nelson.

Sandy, originally from Glasgow, has been on the circuit for 15 years. He is also an accomplished playwright and actor best known as Chris The Postie in BBC Scotland’s Still Game.

Scottish Comedian of the Year 2009, John Gavin, offers tales of his home life with a wife and three young daughters as a 6ft tattooed man who has been subjected to far too much High School Musical and pink fluffy toys.

John has established quite a career since he first starting performing in July 2008 when, without his knowledge, his wife put him forward for a competition for newcomers at the Edinburgh Fringe. He had never performed comedy before. He did so well he got through to the final of So You Think You’re Funny.

Paul Pirie.

Despite his relative newcomer status, he’s gone on to perform at The Stand, The Comedy Store and is part of the Gilded Balloon circuit tour.

Paul Pirie began his stand-up career in 2006, quickly establishing himself on the Scottish comedy circuit. With a driving force for achievement, Paul worked his way into the London clubs and was launched onto the UK comedy scene, emerging as one of the biggest Scottish acts on the UK comedy circuit.


Paul’s career has encompassed TV, (appearing in Ikea’s April 2011 comedy based TV advert), film and radio. His hilarity and comedic ability has earned him huge popularity with comedy goers and bookers across the world, gigging as far abroad as Australia and for diverse audiences.

Paul’s work is superbly individual and put simply, delivers a refreshing burst of laugh out loud comedy that leaves audiences in raptures.

The Up Helly Aa Hop with DJ Tam Coyle is an 18+ event and is FREE to attend.

Lisa Ward, marketing officer for Shetland Arts, said: “We’re aware that the end of January is a very financially lean time for people in Shetland so we’ve decided that this event will work better and be more inclusive if it’s free to attend. We want everyone to be welcome at our first ever Up Helly Aa Hop!

Mareel’s first Up Helly Aa looks all set to be a roaring success – Fiery Sessions is nearly sold out (book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!), and Stand Up Helly Aa is selling better than ever.

“And the Café Bar will be the place to start your Hop day from 8am, when we open our doors for our first ever Guizers’ breakfast.”’

Fiery Sessions runs from 2pm-5pm, tickets cost £9 / £7, and all are welcome.

Stand Up Helly Aa starts at 9pm and tickets cost £10. The show may include some adult content. Tickets for both events can be booked now via Shetland Box Office in Mareel/Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online at www.mareel.org