Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Up Helly Aa lighting up Shetland

Up Helly Aa
The Jarl Squad dressed in Viking costume taking part in the Up Helly Aa festival

Europe's biggest annual fire festival - the spectacular Up Helly Aa - has culminated with the dramatic burning of a replica Viking galley.

Up Helly Aa celebrates Shetland's Viking heritage with a torch-lit procession and the galley burning.

Visitors from across the world travel to see the event, which features a band of latter-day Viking warriors known as the Jarl Squad.

The Lerwick rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of participants and viewers.

Englishman Stephen Lamming reflects on his role in the Shetland Up Helly Aa festival.

Guizer Jarl Rae Simpson - known for the day as Sigurd 'Snake Eye' Ragnarsson - led his 60-strong squad through the streets of Lerwick.

The 37-year-old firefighter at Sumburgh Airport is the third member of his family to take on the symbolic role of lead Viking, which he said made the role all the more special for him.

The fire festival season was launched at Scalloway earlier this month.

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