When: 30th April 2018, from 8pm – 1.30am
Where: Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland
£: Tickets cost £9 (+ booking fee) in advance and £13 on the gate (cash payments only). Booking in advance is advisable
What is it?
On Monday 30th April, the Beltane Fire Festival will return to Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, to welcome the onset of Summer. This will be the 14th Beltane Fire Festival to be held since it began in the 1980s.
The modern twist on an ancient Celtic tradition will mark the changing seasons with a wild mix of drums, fire and physical theatre, on a scale not seen anywhere else in the world.
The festival itself may have ancient Celtic roots (first recorded as celebrated by Celts in the first century AD), but the modern incarnation of Beltane has a history all of its own. Begun in 1988 by leading arts figure Angus Farquhar (of pioneering industrial music group, Test Dept), Beltane Fire Festival is a chance for volunteer performers and audience alike to celebrate freedom and creativity, and to reconnect with nature and the changing of the seasons; right in the heart of Scotland’s capital. Steered by a creative team of hundreds of passionate volunteers, Edinburgh’s Beltane has developed its very own story.
Although Beltane is known as a joyful celebration with fire, a narrative does guide events. Amongst a cavalcade of characters, and set to the beating of the drums, the ‘May Queen’ leads her court over Calton Hill’s National Monument and around the hill to begin the journey toward summer.
Her counterpart, the Green Man, is stripped of his winter guise and reborn; and together they light the traditional Beltane bonfire in celebration of the life and warmth ahead in the summer months.
While these core elements and traditions are respected and retained, each year the volunteer community that brings Beltane together introduces new characters into the mix.
Away from the main procession, other storylines are played out as different characters and groups emerge, interacting with each other and audience members. All brought to life with giant puppets, stunning costumes and – of course – fire.
Rather than spoken theatre or music performed entirely on stages, Beltane takes a more investigative theatre approach, with few barriers between audience and performer, and performances taking place all around the hill and amongst the crowd.
Spectators at this year’s festival should expect a colourful display with intricate costumes, fire sculptures and fire dancing moves.