Viking passion for football on display ahead of Up Helly Aa festival

The Vikings were clearly football fans, if the centrepiece of this year’s famous Up Helly Aa festival on Shetland is anything to go by.

Pictures ahead of Tuesday’s procession show the galley boat painted in the distinctive green and white hoops of Celtic Football Club.

Up Helly Aa takes place in Lerwick in January each year, when people dressed as Vikings march through the streets of the town to recreate its ancient Viking past.

Up Helly Aa Viking longboat
Up Helly Aa Viking longboat

The procession is led by the Guizer Jarl, or chief guizer, and culminates in a replica longboat being set alight.

Volunteers are responsible for the building of the galley boat, with its colours traditionally chosen by the Guizer Jarl, the role held this year by John Nicolson.

His brother David Nicolson, himself a former Guizer Jarl, said: “It’s his galley and those are the colours he’s gone with.

“Safe to say he’s a Celtic supporter through and through.

“I’m a Rangers supporter, so I’ll take great delight in seeing it burn,” he joked.

Shetland and neighbouring Orkney were ruled by the Norse for about 500 years until they became part of Scotland in 1468.