Visit Shetland, land of Valhalla and Mirrie Dancers

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Shetland is a place that continually bats above its level and growing up there you take it for granted in many ways. More than 100 mostly uninhabited islands make up The Shetland Islands with a population of 23,000 or so spread out amongst the 16 that do make it viable to support human life. Steeped in tradition the dialect is more likened to Scandinavian roots which should come as no surprise given that Norway gifted Shetland to Scotland in the 15th Century as part of a dowry. 6000 historic sites have been discovered covering 6000 years of history from the Mesolithic period and onwards to the relatively recent history of crofting, knitting and farming on the islands.
This is the furthest north that you can go and still be in the UK and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea bring an abundance and variety of wildlife that is unique to this part of the world. Puffins, albatross, petrels and gannets are a few of the bird species to be found and who doesn’t know about the Shetland pony or the Shetland sheepdog? Nature tours run throughout the year but the summer months are more comfortable and enjoyable given the better weather and longer days. In fact, it doesn’t get dark at all in the height of summer which means that heavy curtains are a must!
If you go in Winter, there may be the chance to see the ‘Mirrie Dancers’ (Northern Lights) or the Up Helly Aa fire festival. This Viking inspired event sees 60 Vikings, headed by a Jarl, pull a Viking galley in a procession followed by around 900 men in 30 squads carrying torches through the streets of the capital, Lerwick. At the end of it all the torches are thrown into the galley to send it to Valhalla and then the party really begins! Spectators come from all over the world come to Shetland to join in the celebrations which occur on the last Tuesday of January every year and luckily there is a public holiday the next day to aid the recovery.
We can’t mention Shetland and not give a nod to the world renowned folk music scene built by legends such as Tom Anderson and Ally Bain and continued by the young guns we see performing at festivals today such as Catriona MacDonald, Christopher Stout and Kevin Henderson. There are numerous concerts, festivals and workshops held throughout the year and nothing beats hearing the music live.
So, as you can see, Shetland has a little bit of something for everyone and Active Travel can look after every aspect of your tour and will use our local connections to tailor make the perfect experience! Call us on 1300 783 188 or email askus@activetravel.com.au