The Pillage People

ANDREW MILLIGAN / PA-AP

The Shetland Islands may be the most northerly part of Britain, but from January to March, they're ruled by Vikings. Norway lost Shetland to the Scots in 1468, but the islanders have never forgotten their roots. Since the early 19th century, Shetlanders have celebrated Up Helly Aa, a fire festival that heralds the end of winter and the return of the sun. The biggest celebration is in Lerwick, the capital, on the last Tuesday in January; this year it's Jan. 31.

Last year, 51 Vikings wearing blue velvet tunics, winged helmets and sealskin capes cheered and wielded their...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!