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Community / A procession with a difference: galley burning to take place in July ahead of Tall Ships

May Graham's photo for Promote Shetland from the Scalloway Fire Festival earlier this year.

THE UNUSUAL sight of a fire festival procession in the middle of summer will come to Scalloway this July as Vikings from across Shetland team up for a one-off event.

The procession, featuring 2023 jarl squads from Shetland, will be held on Tuesday 25 July as a warm-up for the Tall Ships Races visit to the isles.

The Tall Ships Races, scheduled for 26-29 July, are expected to draw many visitors to Shetland.

One the aims of the July procession is to give visiting crews and tourists to the isles a taste of the Up Helly Aa experience.

Usually fire festival and Up Helly Aa processions revolve around winter darkness – and the fiery torches and burning galley providing a striking juxtaposition.

But with the July procession lighting up at 7.30pm, daylight will instead provide the backdrop. Alongside the jarl squads will be Scalloway Fire Festival guizers, whilst the Lerwick Brass Band will be providing music.

The event, organised by the village’s fire festival and called the Scalloway Viking Procession, will follow the usual route of Lovers Loan/New Road/Main Street/Port Arthur.

They will see squads hold aloft flaming torches and burn a galley at Port Arthur.

People are advised that the route will be closed to traffic at 7.15pm, with car parking available at the school and fisheries college. There will also be coach parking at the Blacksness Pier.

After the procession local covers band the Plonkys will perform at the Scalloway Boating Club, while there will be a disco in the village’s hall for juniors.

There will also be plenty places in Scalloway open for food and drink on the night.

The Scalloway Youth and Community will also be hosting some nautical events, including a pirate-themed scavenger hunt around the village and arts and crafts sessions for bairns.

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Scalloway was originally announced as a guest port for the Shetland visit alongside Cullivoe and Baltasound, but it is no longer on the list.

Shetland Tall Ships project manager Emma Miller said: “Scalloway Community Council decided not to participate in the Cruise in Company as a Guest Harbour, but instead decided to support the efforts of Scalloway Fire Festival committee to put on a torchlit procession with galley burning for the community, and for any ships arrived in Lerwick by the Tuesday.

“We will be offering a bus to crew members to take them through to Scalloway.”

Other Tall Ships related festivities taking place prior to the main event include the Sail Yell festival at the Cullivoe Pier on 23, 24 and 25 July.

Tickets for Scottish folk act Mànran and local support Skelburn on 24 July are going on sale from 10am today (Friday).

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