On Tuesday 30th April, the Beltane Fire Festival will return to Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, to welcome the onset of Summer. This will be the 14th 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, having started in 1988. The festival was the creation of leading arts figure Angus Farquhar, of pioneering industrial music group Test Dept.
Beltane Fire Festival is a chance for volunteer performers, and the audience alike, to celebrate freedom and creativity. An opportunity to reconnect with nature and the changing of the seasons, right in the heart of Scotland’s capital.
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.
Beltane has few barriers between audience and performer; taking place all around the hill and amongst the crowd. The story is all brought to life with giant puppets, stunning costumes, and – of course – fire.
When: 30th April 2019, from 8pm
Where: Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland
£: Tickets cost £11 for adults and £5.50 for children
More info: beltane.org