A world-famous squad of Vikings will parade down Aberdeen’s Union Street as part of this year’s Christmas festivities.
The Evening Express can reveal the Up Helly Aa Vikings from Shetland will be the special guests at this year’s Christmas Lights Switch-On Parade.
Union Street’s lights will be switched on in a Fire and Ice themed parade led by the Lord Provost of Aberdeen on Sunday November 25 at 5.30pm.
The free parade will also include Santas, reindeer on Segways and a host of carnival characters.
Lord Provost Barney Crockett said the announcement was “very exciting”, adding people across the city would be “delighted”.
He said: “I used to live in Shetland so I have taken part in it before and had a great time.
“It’s completely spectacular and a great celebration.
“They do a great job and people devote years to become part of the squad.
“We always get a good turnout at the parade but this will certainly be something that’s memorable.”
Their special appearance will be a sneak preview of Shetland’s famous Viking fire festival Up Helly Aa, which takes place on the last Tuesday in January in Lerwick.
The event was recently placed third on top travel guide Wanderlust’s list of Europe’s “most extraordinary” winter festivals.
The festival is a tradition that originated in the 1880s and celebrates the islands’ proud Viking heritage with islanders dressing up in traditional costumes, playing traditional music and enjoying a traditional drink or two.
Meanwhile, the Santa Fun Run, organised by the charity Charlie House, will also take place before the official switch-on.
Santas will start at Albyn Place in the city and are tasked with making it to Castle Street in 30 minutes.
Entrants must be 16 or over, but mini Santas below that age can take part accompanied by an adult.
The run will take between 5pm and 6pm but all participants are asked to register at the desk on Victoria Street by 3.30pm.
Tickets for the event are £10, with a family ticket available for £35, which includes a bib number, Santa suit and a winner’s medal and a special Christmas goodie bag for each participant.
Susan Crighton, director of fundraising at Charlie House, said: “We’re delighted that the Up Helly Aa Vikings will be joining the Aberdeen Christmas Light Parade.
“This is sure to attract even more people from across the region to see first-hand the spectacular group march down Union Street.
“We may even manage to convince one of the Vikings to don a Santa suit as part of the Charlie House Santa Fun Run ahead of the parade!”
The Evening Express revealed last week that the Christmas Village will return to the city on November 22 and runs until Hogmanay.
This year’s event will be held on Broad Street for the second time but will double in size and extend along Upperkirkgate.
A Santa Express train, slingshot bungee-jump ride and Santa’s grotto are among the new attractions at the village, which organisers claim will be “bigger and better”.