Much of the spectacle is centered on the Guizer Jarl's squad, and they march, with due ceremony (and a fair bit of roaring and waving of war-axes) through
the streets of Lerwick.
Something perhaps the
origional Shetlanders would
not have appreciated.
There’s a considerable amount of parading about, and, bearing in mind that both the shield and axe are real and as heavy as they look, most guizers are quite happy for cleaner looking spectators to try on the helmet or heft the axe when the parade stops for a photo session.
The ‘07 version has a heavy pewter bear's head built into the helmet, a small “dress” axe (for formal occasions) hanging from a decorated metallic tunic and a reindeer cape. There’s even a small pewter cup on a chain for any whisky that happens to be passing.
Altogether an effective kit for the smart Viking who has an eye for a spot of well-dressed marauding. It's not light though and you’d need a good solid breakfast to keep all that metal moving, and a few magic mushrooms if you want to get up to Berserker speed.
Each year the Guizer Jarl squad tries to out-do the last one. Next year’s squad has quite a task in front of it, and should be well worth seeing.
After the senior and junior parades there’s a short break and then as darkness falls, (remember the light goes early up near the arctic circle in winter), the main torch bearing parade gets going. With bagpipe and brass bands and nearly a thousand torch-bearing guisers, it’s quite a spectacle. The various guiser squads then go on a town circuit, each team doing a turn at each venue until late into the night, well actually up to an early-ish breakfast.
The smell of paraffin will trigger new memories from now on. Go and see it, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.
I've only skimmed the surface here, there is, for instance, a whole junior parade, go see.