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Community / University survey looks for views on Up Helly Aa

The 2020 Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Photo: Chris Brown

LERWICK residents are being invited to take part in a survey about the town’s Up Helly Aa.

Edinburgh University student Holly Jones is keen to hear how people perceive the fire festival. The survey can be found online here.

The third year MA geography student has picked the topic for her upcoming fourth year dissertation.

The survey – for people aged 18 and over – is anonymous and looks to explore the contrasting views of Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa when it comes to gender roles.

“The project will appreciate the differing viewpoints of those who are associated with or hold interest in the festival, and their reasoning as well as consideration of future Up Helly Aa and what, if any, changes should be considered,” Jones said.

“This project aims to build on previous research by other human geographers who have studied roles and representations of gender, tradition, heritage, and the geographies of festivals more generally.”

She said festivals are generally a unique aspect of geography.

“They are great to study because they provide an insight to a society and understanding of their associated belief systems, while also delivering a sense of collective belonging to many or showcasing shared histories and values,” Jones said.

The student said she became interested in Up Helly Aa after long conversations with friends from university, who are from Shetland.

“Having never heard of it before, it seemed like such an unusual but exciting affair,” she said.

“After a night of sharing stories about their perceptions and experiences of Up Helly Aa, I went away thinking what a great dissertation it would make.

“Not being from Shetland myself will enable me to approach the project with a totally balanced outlook, simply interested in hearing all perceptions in whatever shape or form they may take.”