The Festive Town of Brae

If you are planning a trip to the Shetland Islands at any time, you might think about visiting the peaceful settlement of Brae. In Gaelic the word ‘brae’ is usually translated as ‘hill’, but in the case of Brae, it is better interpreted as ‘a slope to the sea’. This is a very good description of the geographical position of this small but pretty little village.

Brae, Scotland, started life as a tiny Scottish fishing village. It experienced a period of rapid growth in the 1970s when the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal was constructed nearby. The growth resulted in the village extending to such a point that it soon merged with the nearby village of Northbrae and the oil terminal brought much needed revenue to the small settlement. Today the inhabitants of Brae tend to place a stronger emphasis on the ‘northern lights lounge’ which plays a large role in the ‘Brae Up Helly Aa’ festival. Unlike other ‘lounge’ clubs with the same name from around the world, the northern lights lounge in Scotland has the best claim to this name since the renowned northern lights are clearly visible from this northern outreach. This beautiful and completely natural display of lights has become world famous and the festival attracts a large number of people to the village each year. If you can manage it, this is generally the best time to visit Brae as the festival events are tons of fun and you can make friends quite readily. The festival includes the building of a Viking ship and the ceremonial carrying of a throne to the ship at night under the light of torches. The throne is then placed on the ship which is lit with torches before being pushed out to sea. It is a costumed festival and people from nearby villages all join in on the fun.

The village of Brae is situated on the end of Busta Voe on a narrow neck of land which separates the mainland from Northmavine. The town is complete with police station, fire station, schools and a clinic which are used by many people staying in the northern half of the island. Why not visit Brae and discover the charm of those who live in this hospitable Shetland Islands fishing village?


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