AN ARMY of vikings have invaded the Shetland Islands - and nobody feared for their lives.

For the 58 sheepskin tunic and armour-wearing warriors were less marauding, more proudly walking as they took part in Up Helly Aa 2017, the annual festival celebrating Scandanavian culture.

Hundreds of history enthusiasts braved the chilly rain to to parade around Lerwick, Shetland, for Up Helly Aa 2017.

More than 14,000 last year watched a live stream from across the globe.This year a Promote Shetland live stream had received over 130,000 views.

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The spectacular festival climaxed with a torchlight procession tonight, led by 37-year-old Lyall Gair, the 2017 Guizer Jarl.

Thousands of spectators gathered as a total of 1004 guizers carrying 872 carrying paraffin-soaked torches helping to send replica Viking galley boat to a fiery demise.

Earlier the jarl squad started the day even attending a civic reception featuring prominent members of Shetland life and a special gues, the Faroese Prime Minister Aksel Johannesen. Their arrival was greeted with cheering and horns, a rendition from the jarl squad of the Up Helly Aa song followed by the Proclaimers hit I’m on My Way and Elvis Presley’s Burning Love.

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell gave Mr Gair and his team the freedom of Lerwick for the next 24 hours.

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Gair said it was "absolutely tremendous" to be involved in the festival which he thought was "going from strength to strength".

Jarl Squad member Robert Balfour got into the spirit of the event, posing for selfies with visitors.

“It’s a great honour. I’ve kent Lyall for 12 or 13 years, being part of his squad. I got asked in by his brother, Russell Gair. We’ve been part of the squad for years, and it’s all been building up to today," he said.

Islanders are involved in planning the festival all year round, with hundreds of costumes sewed by hand in homes around the town and a new galley boat built every year.

Last year people from 78 countries tuned in to watch the live stream of Lerwick's big event watching for an average time of 48 minutes 33 seconds.

And the 2017 event is wowing the audience on social media.

Katrina Mesure said: "Watching from central coast Australia!!! It's 7am I'm watching it with my son. I Was Born in Shetland but now can only watch from live streaming. Would love to come back one day with my family see it again!!"

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Lisa Mennie from Glasgow said: "Watching the live stream for Up Helly Aa. Next bucket list item waiting to be ticked."

Jo-Ann Rae added: "What a lovely evening - thanks for all your hard work and Peter for singing! Watching in Tsawwassen, BC, Canada."

Rune A. Madsen said: "Greetings from Oslo, Norway! I should have been sailing over for the event me too! But I can watch it live from over here, thanks! Dont have a sober night! :-)."

There are strict rules for taking part. While visitors are welcome as on-lookers, the organisers say "it is very much a local event for local people" and particpants must be resident in Shetland for five years before they can take part in the squad and procession.

And for health and safety reasons, the media cannot participate or are allowed into the burning site.

The spectacle has takes place in the last Tuesday of January each year in a tradition dating back to the 19th century.