Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Fire Festival

The Fire Festival Experience in the Shetland Islands takes place every year between January and March, communities in Shetland come together for a series of spectacular and unique fiery celebrations. The Up Helly Aa Fire Festivals are one of Shetland’s biggest annual celebrations. Inspired by Shetland’s Viking past, the isles’ communities come together to dress up, light torches in the streets and dance the night away to traditional Shetland music.

This article, which we have selected as Good Practises, recounts the journey of one woman and her family during the fire festival. As well as describing the experience itself, she also talks about how she felt during the festival, the thoughts that went through her mind and how she reflected on the experience.

Why is it regenerative?

This practise fits within the context of Shetland’s tourism strategy, which aims to capitalise on the country’s unique strengths – its people and distinctive culture, landscapes, scenery and other natural assets, as well as its geographical position as the most northerly” island in the UK – to meet wider tourism trends that are driving an increasing demand for authentic experiences, places away from the tourist hotspots and in niche markets. Shetland is looking to build on these opportunities to better capitalise on these local strengths, particularly as part of the wider drive to extend the tourist season.

Project partners met in Aveiro on the 14th and 15th of September 2023. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the destination with regenerative glasses on, to understand its many assets but also some of the challenges the destination is facing. Face to face project meetings always provide the partners with the unique opportunity to learn about the work of the hosting partner and get valuable insights about the destination. In this case partners were hosted by the dedicated team of management and tourism professionals of the University of Aveiro who shared a wealth of insights about a city that was new to many of the participants.

The Enforce project is well on track when it comes to the project work plan, which means that after having completed the Best Practice collection of innovative examples about storytelling for regeneration and also the Storyteller’s Guide, partners used the meeting to discuss the development of the Enforce Training Programme.

For the next few months partners will be working on developing the content in line with guidelines provided by the University of Usak, our project partner from Turkey.
The course should be available for piloting in January/February 2024 and will also be available in the partner languages once all translations are finalised.

The ENFORCE team met in the beautiful city of Luxembourg for its kick-off meeting. It took place at the premises of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (also known as CCIL), which opened its doors to warmly welcome all partners.

The team was aware of the importance of this first meeting and approached it with the same enthusiasm, as it plays an important role in building strong bonds that will contribute to the success of the entire cooperation. With the common goal of building a solid foundation, the participants discussed in depth the first steps required for the project ENFORCE.

During this visit, the project objectives were discussed in depth to ensure that each partner has a comprehensive understanding of the overarching goals. The outcome of the kick-off meeting was extremely satisfying for all partners and generated enthusiasm among the team. It was a success and left everyone inspired and energised.

The journey of ENFORCE has officially begun and with the collective expertise of the committed partners, there is no doubt that it will thrive and achieve remarkable results.


“The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein”

Project N: 2022-1-LU01-KA220-VET-000089887

© 2024 Enforce Project
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