You have to love Shetlanders for the fact that their biggest festival is in January, a festival of fire known as ‘Up Helly Aa’. It has been held since the 1880s because Shetland is not all about tourism; it’s real. It’s there to be adored, but very much on Shetlanders’ terms. And Shetlanders’ terms are not necessarily Scottish ones either, their roots being Nordic just like their neighbours on Orkney. At Up Helly Aa, for example, they burn a Viking galley ship as the festival finale.
The highest point on Shetland is Ronas Hill at 450m, also known as a Marilyn. As opposed to the Scottish giant ‘monros’, apparently. It’s windy up there though. Hold onto your skirts.
With about 100 islands in this archipelago, accessible on an overnight, 350km ferry journey from Aberdeen, only 20 of these wild and wonderful islands are inhabited. The rest are home to seals, birdlife and even otters, which come out to play on the beaches in daylight – unlike in the rest of the country where they tend to be nocturnal. Like we said, Shetlanders do things their way. So much so, even the midges stay away.
Read our Shetland travel guide for more details.