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Community / Lerwick Up Helly Aa postponed to 2023

The committee said there is not ‘sufficient time to run the event in its normal format’

The 2020 Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Photo: Chris Brown

THE LERWICK Up Helly Aa is to be postponed for a second year in a row – with the fire festival now set to be held again in 2023.

The organising committee said due to the continued uncertainty surrounding the guidelines of hosting events and festivals over the coming months it has decided to postpone the 2022 event until January 2023.

“Up Helly Aa as an event relies on numerous factors coming together at one time to be able run smoothly and safely,” a spokesperson explained.

“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.

The Lerwick Up Helly Aa was last held in January 2020, before the pandemic struck. All 2021 Up Helly Aa events across Shetland were postponed.

As a result of the main festival being postponed, there will also be no Junior Up Helly Aa in 2022.

A spokesperson said: “The Junior Up Helly Aa Committee agrees with our senior counterparts that the festival of Up Helly Aa relies on a combination of factors to be able to run smoothly and safely, including a support network of hundreds of volunteers.

“We couldn’t ask for them to take on even more responsibility with so many unanswered questions still surrounding the running of major events in the coming months.”