New York Tartan Day Parade – Saturday, April 6th, 2019
New York Celebrates Its Scottish Heritage
Tartan Day Dancers
Meditating in Mid-Air
Tartan Day Parade Pipe Band

The Jarl Squad of 2019


NYC, are you prepared for 75 Vikings?

The Jarl Squad of 2019 have been asked to take part in the 21st New York Tartan Day Parade which takes place on Saturday 6th April 2019. The event is part of the wider celebrations, following on from the official recognition of that date being designated National Tartan Day in 1998 by the U.S. Senate - done to recognize the contributions made by Scottish-Americans to the United States.

The group are keen to participate in this and it is intended this presence is supplemented with Jarl Squad members from the 2007 and 2012 festivals since, in both those years, the Guizer Jarl’s were brothers to the 2019 Jarl - the first time in festival history this has ever occurred and unlikely to ever happen again.

The distance alone from Shetland’s principal town, Lerwick, to London is some 768 miles itself on top of the additional 3,459 miles to New York. Given this trip needs to be made along with intricate and heavy Viking costumes - including helmets, shields, boots, breastplate and amour this represents a very significant financial commitment to personal travel along with a challenging logistic cargo requirement.

A party size of 100 is proposed, but this is subject to final confirmation over the next couple of months.

What makes this year special is that it will be 3 different squads from 2007, 2012 & 2019 led by 3 brothers. Graham Nicolson, 2007 Guizer Jarl, David Nicolson, 2012 Guizer Jarl and John Nicolson, 2019 Guizer Jarl, their father Jim Nicolson was Guizer Jarl in 1979 and is out 40 years later in his youngest son's squad. 
1979 Larwick Jarl Squad Jim Nicolson Guizer Jarl

UP-Helly-Aa

Up-Helly-Aa is a traditional cultural festival which originated, and is still held annually, in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, in the 1880s. The festival is entirely run by volunteers and provides a superb spectacle and celebration of Shetland history. It is a great demonstration of islanders' skills and spirit.

The key element of the festival is the annual appearance of the Jarl’s Squad. This is a group of festival participants traditionally clothed and decorated in Viking suit/costume and led by the ‘Guizer Jarl’ who has served for 15 years on the festival’s organising Committee.

Viking Festival, Up-Helly-Aa in Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The Forming of a Jarl Squad 

Each year the Jarl is responsible for selecting friends, colleagues and associates to form the Jarl’s Squad, meaning that a different group takes on the main central role in the festival every year. The group usually consists of around 50-60 people, including children, who visit local hospitals, schools and care homes during festival day and then take part in Europe’s largest fire festival in the evening – a torch lit procession involving around 1,000 participants, followed by celebrations through the night involving song, dance and fun.

Modern Day Vikings Celebrate Up-Helly-Aa

The Jarl Squad of 2019 have been asked to take part in the 21st New York Tartan Day Parade which takes place on Saturday 6th April 2019. The event is part of the wider celebrations, following on from the official recognition of that date being designated National Tartan Day in 1998 by the U.S. Senate - done to recognise the contributions made by Scottish-Americans to the United States.

The group are keen to participate in this and it is intended this presence is supplemented with Jarl Squad members from the 2007 and 2012 festivals since, in both those years, the Guizer Jarl’s were brothers to the 2019 Jarl - the first time in festival history this has ever occurred and unlikely to ever happen again.

The distance alone from Shetland’s principal town, Lerwick, to London is some 768 miles itself on top of the additional 3,459 miles to New York. Given this trip needs to be made along with intricate and heavy Viking costumes - including helmets, shields, boots, breastplate and armour this represents a very significant financial commitment to personal travel along with a challenging logistic cargo requirement.

A party size of 100 is proposed, but this is subject to final confirmation over the next couple of months.

Background to the Up Helly Aa Festival

Tuesday 30th January 2018 - “There will be no postponement for weather". That's a defiant boast by Shetland's biggest fire festival, considering it's held in mid-winter on the same latitude as southern Greenland. But it's true: gales, sleet and snow have never yet stopped the Up Helly Aa guizers of Lerwick from burning their Viking galley - and then dancing the dawn away.

Up Helly Aa is a lot more than a sub-arctic bonfire. It's a superb spectacle, a celebration of Shetland history, and a triumphant demonstration of islanders' skills and spirit. This northern Mardi Gras, run entirely by volunteers, lasts just one day (and all the following night). But it takes several thousand people 364 days to organise. Much of the preparation is in strictest secrecy. The biggest secret of all is what the head of the festival, the 'Guizer Jarl', will wear and which character from the Norse Sagas he'll represent. It sounds wonderful, and it is. Shetland is so peaceful and quiet - until Up Helly Aa that is, which was an amazing experience never to be forgotten.

The Jarl - Lord of Lerwick for a day and a night - Lerwick’s Jarl will have been planning (and saving up for) the longest day of his life for 15 years or more, before he dons his raven-winged helmet, grabs axe and shield, and embarks on a 24-hour sleepless marathon. Along with the rest of the committed, volunteer crew, he’ll have spent thousands of hours preparing each and every Up Helly Aa and its associated events, until his big day dawns.

Click Here to Read the Full Story


What is Tartan Day, the New York Tartan Day Parade, and Tartan Week?


Welcome to the official website of the New York Tartan Day Parade!

Registration for the 2019 NYC Tartan Day Parade is NOW OPEN.

Come join us to march up Sixth Avenue in New York City, to the swirl of kilts, the skirl of bagpipes and the cheers of tens of thousands of spectators. We admit to bias when we say it’s the most fun Parade in New York! Join pipe bands from across the globe, dancers, clans, dogs, politicians, Scottish cultural organizations, plus of COURSE the Loch Ness Monster, in a joyous New York celebration of Scottish pride.

The invitation is still out there, if you are in NYC, give me a shout! I'd love to grab a pint with you.

Kyle Dawson
President, National Tartan Day New York Committee president@nyctartanweek.org

A Special Thank You to Our Sponsors

The National Tartan Day New York Committee would like to recognize our 2018 Sponsors whose support enabled the New York Tartan Day Parade to happen.


    GOLD SPONSORS
  • Belhaven Brewery- Official Beer of New York Tartan Day Parade Events
  • Carnegie Hall
  • The Glenlivet Founders Reserve - Official Whisky of New York Tartan Day Parade Events

  • ASSOCIATE SPONSORS
  • VisitScotland
  • Scottish Government
  • Gray Line NY
  • Walkers Shortbread

  • SPONSORS
  • The Algonquin Hotel
  • British Heritage
  • Bloom's Tavern
  • Celtic Life
  • General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman
    of the City of New York
  • Harney & Sons Fine Teas
  • Mountbatten Institute
  • Scottish Banner
  • Scottish Clans and Castles Ltd
  • Stevens & Graham
  • Vector Media