Although part of the United Kingdom, Shetland’s roots are as much Norse as Scottish. This is reflected in the archipelago's many archaeological sites, cultural events and a unique dialect that borrows heavily from Old Norse. Although economically driven by energy, in particular the North Sea oil industry…
Although part of the United Kingdom, Shetland’s roots are as much Norse as Scottish. This is reflected in the archipelago's many archaeological sites, cultural events and a unique dialect that borrows heavily from Old Norse. Although economically driven by energy, in particular the North Sea oil industry and a growing number of wind farms, Shetland’s heritage of fishing and textile production lives on. Tradition also drives the islands’ main festivals, including the world-famous Viking-themed Up Helly Aa festival of fire held every January, and smaller folk festivals held throughout the year. Located midway between Scotland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, the archipelago is home to diverse animal life including the iconic Shetland ponies, easily recognizable by their distinctive short legs and heavy fur coats. Get a closer look at the ponies and the unique black Shetland sheep on the scenic drive to the remarkable Bronze Age archaeological site at Jarlshof. If you choose to linger in Lerwick, head to Commercial Street for the best independent shops and places to eat. A surprising number of musicians, writers and filmmakers make Shetland their home. The new Mareel center for visual and performing arts is testament to the growing importance of the arts community to the Shetland way of life.
Dig deeper into the fascinating history and culture of the Shetland Islands in Lerwick's main museum.
Understand the population's Nordic roots and the archipelago's complex relationship with the United Kingdom through a series of exhibitions covering archaeology and social history. See model ships as well as goods produced on the island in decades gone by. The influence that international imports have had on traditional culture is also explored.
The museum's extensive archive of over 60,000 photographs is available to search online, while local textile and craft souvenirs can be purchased from the small gift shop. Don't miss the excellent café and restaurant.
An intriguing tradition dating back to the 19th century, Shetland's famous festival of fire draws thousands of people to the islands every year.
This exhibition is the next best thing for those who can't visit in January. Film, photographs and Jarl Squad suits on display give visitors a sense of how special the Up Helly Aa festival is to the islands and their people.
Learn about the famous torchlit procession, the old Viking songs and the meaning behind the celebrations. Open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Friday evenings from May to August.
Textile production has played a vital role in the economy of the archipelago, notably when Queen Victoria received a gift of lace stockings from islander Arthur Anderson. Inside the Böd of Gremista, Anderson's childhood home, you’ll meet genuine tradespeople knitting lace and operating spinners and looms. Feel free to ask questions to improve your own knowledge or practical skills. The museum is open during the afternoons from Tuesday to Saturday, from mid-May to late September.
This modern multipurpose venue on Lerwick’s waterfront is the home of Shetland’s art community. Mareel shows films, hosts concerts and exhibitions and functions as a meeting place for Shetland's arts community. Regardless of what’s playing, Mareel is worth a visit for an affordable bite to eat, cup of coffee or glass of wine at the café. Enjoy the free Wi-Fi and excellent views across the water.
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