The Edinburgh Beltane
Sun 30 Apr 2017, Calton Hill.
Taking place at Calton Hill on the night of 30th April each year, the Beltane Fire Festival marks the death of winter and the birth of summer. Now in its 30th year, this modern interpretation of a Pagan ritual has become a popular spectacle. Crowds of up to 12,000 people gather to revel in the unique atmosphere as a vibrant procession of around 300 performers act out the story of the Beltane.
A range of colourful characters bring together the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water) in a procession on Calton Hill led by the May Queen of summer as she begins her ritual courtship of the Green Man of winter. Torch bearers, fire archers, white women, red and blue men all have their parts to play in the story.
This is a unique ‘investigative theatre’ experience with no central stage and no physical barriers between performer and audience. The action takes place outdoors in multiple areas of Calton Hill over a continuous period. Much of the story follows the May Queen’s procession, but there are many counter-performances dotted all over the hill to ensure everyone has a chance to see and be involved. The procession awakens one group of characters after another and each plays a part in bringing the hill to life. The event concludes with the lighting of the Beltane bonfire.
The Beltane begins at 8pm and ends at 1.30am. To witness it for yourself, tickets can be purchased in advance from Tickets Scotland. They may also be bought on the night at the box office, subject to availability. Full details for this year’s event are available on the Beltane Fire Society website.