Shetland is an archaeologists dream come true. Wherever you go in the islands you can see evidence of the people who lived there previously. Some of the earliest and best archaeological sites are right next to the modern shoreline. The only complete broch– an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure – in the world is on the uninhabited island of Mousa, while the well preserved Clickimin Broch stands by a lock in the middle of Lerwick.
Two of the best sites are right next to Sumburgh Airport: the recent archaeological dig at Old Scatness has turned up some amazing finds, including entire buildings overwhelmed by a sandstorm, and the famous Jarlshof, a multi-period settlement.
Shetland plays host to the largest fire festival in Europe –Up Helly Aa, in Lerwick on last Tuesday of January every year. After a torch-light procession of up to a thousand guizers through the streets of Lerwick a full-size replica Viking longship is ceremonially burned.
The guizers and onlookers then retreat to local halls for a night of revelry, dancing and partying (be aware that a ticket is required for entrance to theses venues).
There are many local small country festivals held between February and March each year. Come and see these small events for a more community feel and cheaper travel and accommodation costs.
Summer visitors can get a flavour of this mid-winter extravaganza at the Up Helly Aa exhibition in Lerwick where the regalia, props, costumes and a replica longship are on display.
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