Beltane Fire Festival

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  • Website: www.beltane.org

A modern interpretation of the ancient fertility festival of Beltane housed 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, of course, fire.

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Beltane Fire Festival

Join hundreds of performers and thousands of revellers as they come together on Calton Hill to celebrate the death of winter and the birth of summer by casting off the darkness and celebrating the light on one of the most magical nights of the year.

The Beltane spectacle is a celebration of the elemental story of death and re-birth and the eternal battle of the seasons, as played out with fire, drums, pyrotechnics and a procession.

A modern interpretation of the ancient fertility festival, the Beltane is the only festival of its kind in the world. Pulsating drums are the heartbeat of this fully immersive, investigative theatre, in a dramatic outdoor setting and with no physical curtains or barriers. Come face-to-face with the colourful characters as they make their way around the hill, or step back and marvel at the scale of a production brought together in only two months by around 300 dedicated volunteers.

There is no single central point where everything is performed, rather there are multiple points of focus spread around the public parkland on Calton Hill, with views across the night-time cityscape of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. A large part of the story follows the procession of the May Queen, representing summer, around the hill, but there are also counter-performances of fire dancing and Celtic characters dotted all over the hill to ensure everyone has chance to see and be involved. As the procession’s presence awakens one group of characters after another, each plays a part throughout the evening, bringing the hill to life, mirroring the earth’s awakening from winter to spring.

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Performance times

We have no details of upcoming performances, if you do please let us know.

Reviews & features

Make this the year you go to Beltane Fire Festival

30 Mar 2017

As proposed changes to processions in Edinburgh threaten Samhuinn, Beltane gets fired up to celebrate the start of summer on Calton Hill

Beltane Fire Festival celebrates its 30th birthday this year, with organisers Beltane Fire Society promising to pull out all the stops ahead of the May Day Bank Holiday. The outdoor event, taking place on Sun 30 Apr, is a modern twist on the Celtic…

Beltane Fire Festival

4 Apr 2016

Birth, death and everything in between at the annual fire festival

The death of winter. The birth of summer. Shedding darkness and celebrating light in a decadent parade throughout Edinburgh's streets, culminating in a dramatic climax on the historic Calton Hill: that's what Beltane is all about. A consistent high…

Beltane Fire Festival turns up the heat

28 Apr 2015

Everything you need to know about the annual event on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill

The celebration is inspired by an ancient Gaelic festival that marked the beginning of summer. The modern festival began in 1988 and has evolved into a night of immersive performance and colourful characters. A procession leads the May Queen and the…

The ancient tradition behind the Beltane Fire Festival

24 Apr 2012

The annual ceremony takes place on Edinburgh's Calton Hill

Fire, processions and rituals – all sounds a bit Wicker Man, right? Beltane Fire Festival, however, is not remotely cult-related and Christopher Lee (nor Nicolas Cage, ahem) will not be anywhere in sight at this annual celebration of changing seasons…

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