Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival marks 25th anniversary

Carnival of fire and light with roots in mythology

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This article is from 2012.

Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival marks 25th anniversary

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Edinburgh’s Beltane festival. Over 12,000 revellers are expected to attend the event on Calton Hill as the Beltane Fire Society marks the passage from Spring into Summer. This Carnival of Fire and Light takes place on the 30th April and is open to all with a ticket.

From humble beginnings in 1988, where the first festival featured a core group of a dozen performers watched by a few hundred spectators, Beltane has grown into a mainstay of the capital’s festival season and outgrown some major hurdles on the way. Complaints of lawlessness and criminal behaviour in early years have been replaced by a highly professional, safety-aware event in recent years, helping turn this once amateur celebration into the current spectacular procession regularly celebrated by people from all walks of life.

The Festival’s low key beginnings saw Angus Farquhar, now creative director at NVA, bring together dancers from Laban Dance Centre in London and academics from the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University. Farquhar, with the help of choreographer Lindsay John, created a free event for those hoping to celebrate the Gaelic festival. Often seen as a celebration of Pagan ritualism, organisers are keen to shy away from this reputation insisting it simply draws on aspects of many mythologies and historical events.

This years event will see over 300 performers from all over the world take part in processions of Fire, Water and Air before the symbolic bonfire is lit, during an evening where both performers and spectators celebrate the coming of Summer.

Beltane 2012 will also mark the 25th anniversary of the late night Grand May Day Ceilidh, this year hosted at The Caves. The world-renowned ceilidh will take place in the main vaults while other rooms will play host to reggae, dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, house and techno, with guests including Riddim Tuffa, Bass Alliance and C.H.I.L.L.Y & P.J as well as more dazzling displays of drumming.

Chair of the Beltane Fire Society, Matthew Richardson said: 'Beltane has grown from strength to strength year upon year, and this year we’ve really exceeded all expectations in realising the Festival’s true potential. We can't wait to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this magical event with the people of Edinburgh and beyond.'

Tickets for Beltane are £6 and can be bought online from The Hub, Ripping Records and Ticket Scotland. A limited number of tickets will be available on the night, priced at £8 from the Calton Hill Carriage Drive entrance on Regent Road.

This article is from 2012.

Beltane Fire Festival

A modern interpretation of the ancient fertility festival of Beltane in the spectacular setting of Calton Hill. Beltane Fire Society performs the story of the death of winter and the birth of summer via dance, drumming, debauched acrobatics, giant-puppetry and fire.

Beltane Fire Festival 2011 Edinburgh

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