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The Lost Giants of Unst The Lost Giants of Unst

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County Town: Lerwick
Population: 22,440
Area: 1,466 sq km
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Up Helly Aa
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Events

January
Lerwick Up Helly Aa

February
Bressay Up Helly Aa
Cullivoe Up Helly Aa
Nesting & Girlsta Up Helly Aa
Northmavine Up Helly Aa
Uyeasound Up Helly Aa

March
Delting Up Helly Aa
Norwick Up Helly Aa

May
Shetland Folk Festival

June
1000 Mile Doublehanded Race
Shetland Races

July
Flavour of Shetland

August
Shetland Blues Festival
Shetland Fiddle Frenzy
Viking Festival

September
Shetland Arts Trust Bookfair
Shetland Blues Festival
Viking Festival

October
Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival

December
Burravoe Tar Barrel

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Shetland Isles - 14 places to stay

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Sitting in the swirling waters of the Great North Atlantic Seaway are the dramatic Shetland Isles. An archipelago of rugged and spectacular geology, with islands sculpted by glacial and oceanic movement, the Shetlands are a remote and breathtaking getaway. The Shetlands are a full 600 miles from London, and the 100-plus islands house over a million birds. Dolphins, porpoises, killer whales and seals all populate the waters, with mischief supplied by the great number of sea otters that call Shetland home.

The Shetlands are easily accessible by air or sea: with overnight car ferries departing from Aberdeen, flights from London Stansted in the summer, and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness servicing the isles year round. Just an hour-and-a-half flight from Glasgow, The Shetlands’ location has made it most coveted through history, and most important in establishing trade links between the Nordic lands, Scotland and England. The Shetlands have been populated since 3000BC, yet today, only fifteen of its islands are inhabited. Its capital Lerwick, on the largest of islands, Mainland, succeeded Sculloway as capital in the 18th century. Lerwick is Shetland’s only town, with a population of about 3,500, and prospers despite being destroyed by court order from Sculloway in 1615 and 1625, the Dutch razing its fort to the ground in 1673 and the French destroying it in 1702. With Lerwick offering magnificent hospitality nowadays, one feels the town has been harshly dealt with in the past. Shetland museum in Lerwick is a must visit for a feel for the area’s fascinating importance in trade. The Shetlands are strewn with relics from the Bronze and Iron Ages; burial chambers, and standing stones bind the isles in an historic thread. The Shetlands owe as much to Nordic culture as they do Scottish, with the West Nordic tongue of Norn being spoken on the islands up until the 1800s. The Shetlands take their name from the Old Norse, ‘Hjaltland’ and fell under the control of the Norwegians in the 9th century, when the Vikings sought arable land and pastures new. Norway’s yoke began to weaken though. The Kalmur Union in 1397 pooled the sovereignty of the Nordic lands and under King Christian I of Denmark the islands fell into Scottish hands once more. Even back then, marriage was an expensive business: to raise funds for the dowry for his daughter’s marriage to James III of Scotland, he pawned the Shetlands to the Scots for a mere 8,000 Rhenish Guilders. The Viking influence on culture is still felt today in Shetland, with the local dialect inflected with the Norse patois and music and culture strongly sauced by Nordic influences. There are a number of activities to occupy visitors. Outdoor enthusiasts will be in clover, with sea kayaking, fishing, walking and (if the cold isn’t too off-putting) surfing all available. And fans of natural history will be left agog at the myriad of wildlife and wildflower which bring the islands to life.

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