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Digital Subscriptions > Learn Hot English > 175 > Festival: Up Helly Aa

Festival: Up Helly Aa

DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOME FIRE, FEASTING, FANCY DRESS AND FUN? WELL, EUROPE’S BIGGEST FIRE FESTIVAL MAY IGNITE YOUR INTEREST.

I magine a celebration with performances, parties and processions in a crazy 24-hour celebration. Reminiscent of Viking traditions, the town goes a little mad and the festivities put Mardi Gras to shame. It’s called “Up Helly Aa”, and it’s definitely a unique event to brighten up the cold winter month of January.

Up Helly Aa has some rowdy traditions. It is over 100 years old, and takes place on the last Tuesday of January every year in the small town of Lerwick, Shetland (just off the coast of Scotland). The tradition dates back to the Napoleonic Wars when soldiers and sailors came home from their travels and needed an excuse to be rowdy and show off their firearms. However, it’s more than an excuse for a sub-arctic bonfire and boozeup. It is now a highly-publicised event involving over four or five thousand spectators. Rumour has it that a group of very educated men in the town of Lerwick came up with the name for the festival. They also thought of other elements including guising (disguising yourself during the processions) and introduced the tradition of a torch light procession.

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About Learn Hot English

The latest issue of Hot English (175 – the December issue) is out now! Learn over 300 useful words and expressions and improve your listening skills with Learn Hot English! This month: 10 songs to help you learn English, 12 Christmas words, 10 useful office expressions, 12 family words and expressions, 10 useful phone expressions, 8 useful book words and expressions... plus: • Quiz – What holiday character are you? • Celebrities – names with meaning • Humour – jokes • Language – error correction • Film – movie extracts • Culture – winter festivals • The environment – green spaces • General knowledge – trivia • Cuisine – sausage and courgette pasta • Crime – corny criminals • Dialects – Scots English • Music – misheard lyrics • Politics – censorship • Psychology – New Year’s resolutions AND LOTS, LOTS MORE! By reading and listening to all this great content, you'll improve your English reading and listening skills and learn up to 300 useful words or expressions. Plus, you'll get a better job and pass English-language exams more easily. Guaranteed!
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