Shetland has a huge range of fascinating 'faces' to offer you and caters for many interests. Dramatic seascapes, birds and marine wildlife, archaeology, fiddle music, ponies, knitwear and the 'Up Helly Aa Fire festival' are some of the immediate associations that people make when they think of Shetland - but there is so much more. Just learning how an island community with a history going back thousands of years has survived and flourishes on these islands is a fascination in itself. Though none of the links and suggestions constitute recommendations (we'll leave you to make up your mind) we offer here some thoughts and starting points to help you explore activities and interests that may excite you. Will one visit be enough?
Birds - Shetland bird club is a good place to start, though many visitors are already experts in Shetland ornithology. The cliffs at Sumburgh Head have the most easily accessible colonies of Puffins. Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst is not to be missed if you can spare the time. A visit by boat to the cliffs and colonies of Noss can be astounding for the number and varieties of birds. There are a number of seasoned and knowledgeable operators offering trips there from Lerwick, some of which are listed below. Please make your own choices in a responsible manner.
Other Shetland wildlife trips
Archaeology - Brochs, Crofts, Burial Cairns, Standing Stones, Burnt Mounds, Souterrains, Viking settlements, there is a lot to see. Download a brochure
Shetland textiles - there are fascinating displays at the Shetland Museum and Archives and at the Shetland Textile Working Museum at the Bod of Gremista. Shetland has many knitwear producers, small and large, some of whom are still able to source the exceedingly fine and rare hand-spun 1-ply shawls. As well as beautiful and traditional Fair Isle patterns, Shetland knitwear design continues to thrive and develop with young designers finding international recognition.
Click on the AuroraWatchUK link for up to date information on the 'Mirry Dancers'
Geology - The land mass that is Shetland - now part of the European and Global Geoparks network - had an astonishing geological journey over eons from near the South Pole via the equator to its present position at the northern crossroads of Europe. As a result, in one day, you can walk on an ancient ocean floor, see signs of an extinct volcano and find a wide range of sought-after minerals. Download a brochure or explore yourself - you will be amazed.
Marine life - from Harbour Seals to Minke whales, Otters to Orcas, Shetland offers a variety of marine life to view that is hard to match on an island chain barely 100 miles long. Download the brochure and find out more.
Shetland Dialect - a fascinating exploration for those who love words.
Music - Shetland is particularly well-known for its fiddle music and there is plenty of that going on throughout the year. Special events are the Folk Festival in May and Fiddle Frenzy in July/August. Singing, Classical Music and Jazz are frequently on offer and the Mareel has an extensive programme of events.
Performance, film and visual arts - Mareel is the UK's most northerly music, cinema and creative industries centre. Situated in a prominent quayside area in Lerwick next to the Shetland Museum and
Archives, Mareel has a live performance auditorium, two cinema screens,
rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, education and training spaces, a digital
media production suite, broadcast facilities and a cafe bar.
Opened in April 1994, Bonhoga Gallery at Weisdale Mill is the first purpose-built visual and applied art gallery in Shetland and the most northerly in the UK, showing a programme of local, national and international art and craft exhibitions
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