THE COMMITTEE behind Cullivoe Up Helly Aa is dishing up an elaborate programme of online events this weekend to compensate for what would have been the biggest social shindig in the Yell.
With all fire festivals cancelled all over Shetland due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Yell Up Helly Aa committee is inviting everybody join in virtually.
On Friday night a selection of squad performances from the past decade will be available to watch on the Cullivoe Up Helly Aa’s Facebook or YouTube pages starting from 8pm with a video montage of previous processions and galley burnings.
An online version of the community’s traditional hop concert – the festival’s annual variety concert – will be streamed via the same social media channels from 8pm the following night.
Taking advantage of what online can offer some well-known names have confirmed their appearance including Irish musician Sharon Shannon, Canadian folk performer JP Cormier as well as singer Chesney Hawkes, who reached No.1 in the 1990s with ‘The One and Only’.
Also appearing will be folk festival favourites Madison Violet plus Leo Moran of The Saw Doctors and Orcadian super group The Silber Penguins.
There will be an array of local artists including Alex Couper, Rack & Ruin, George & Steven Spence, The James Leask Band as well as Ross Couper & Margaret Robertson.
Cullivoe Up Helly Aa has also been running a ‘virtual galley shed’ over the past month, setting up Zoom calls that are open for anyone to join and connect with family, friends and neighbours during lockdown.
Jarl-elect Steven Brown will also be presenting this week’s Give Us A Tune programme on BBC Radio Shetland.
“It is vexing no to hae wir Up Helly Aa as normal,” said Steven, who is now due to be guizer jarl in 2022.
“We wir wantin to mak sure dat folk still felt connected to Up Helly Aa – and to each idder – at dis time o year.
“Da hope is dat folk fae all ower Shetland, and fae farther afield, will tune in online and see whit da Cullivoe Up Helly Aa has to offer – all whilst stickin to da ‘bide at hom’ public health message.”
Committee vice chair Brian Spence, who is due to be guizer jarl in 2023 and has helped organise the virtual hop, added: “Wir really excited aboot da incredible standard o musical talent involved, fae all aroond Shetland an all ower da world, an canna thank dem enough fur takin da time ta record something for wis.
“Nearly all o da acts have some kind o link ta Cullivoe, an wir thanks go tae local promoters and events lik da Shetland Folk Festival who have don so much ta build these connections ower da years.”
The pupils of the Cullivoe Primary School have also designed a jarl’s shield to mark this year’s event, with the inscription: ‘Family, Kindness, Helpful.’
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