Welcome to Beltane.org

Beltane 2010 by Neil Hodgins

Formed in 1988, Beltane Fire Society is a community arts performance charity that hosts the Beltane Fire Festival and Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For more information about the Society, our world-famous festivals and how you can get involved, navigate using the menu on the left. Scroll down for our latest news and updates.

Beltane Fire Society is a not-for-profit registered charity in Scotland. Charity Number SC040137. Company Number SC341753.

Photograph by Neil Hodgins, taken at Beltane Fire Festival 2010.

Laying the foundations of a festival

Group Organiser Weekend
A festival timeline is created, photo by James Illing

Last weekend, the Group Organisers, Court, Blues, Event Co-ordinator and Trustees gathered together to lay the foundations for Samhuinn 2014. As well as games, bonding, performance and ritual workshops (and lots of tea and coffee!), a big part of the weekend revolved around starting to create the story for this year’s festival. This is an on-going collaborative process where organisers work together to build a timeline of what happens, when, where and how.

Being part of this process from the very beginning is really exciting, especially knowing that in just over two months that thing we did with giant sheets of paper and lots of post-it notes will have evolved into an epic public performance. Festival organisers meet with each other every week, as well as with our own groups once or twice a week, from now until the end of October. As well as this, there’s the time each pair of Group Organisers spend with each other, planning and working to facilitate the festival experience for all the other volunteers. That fact that so many of us choose to take part in this way again and again shows just how rewarding it is.

The next step for the Group Organisers is inviting you to join us! To find out what performance and production groups are available for you to take part in, come along to the Open Meeting on 31st August. See you there!

Voting is now open for the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2014 Poster Design!

These are the submitted designs for the Samhuinn 2014 poster. To vote, please either click on the Facebook link below your favourite image(s) and Like the post on the BFS Facebook page OR email festival@beltane.org with the listed number of your favourite(s).

You can vote for more than one entry if you like, but please don’t vote for all of them as it is the same as not voting for any.

Clicking on an image will give you a larger view.



The image above is entry #1
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.


The image above is entry #2
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.


The image above is entry #3
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.


The image above is entry #4
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.


The image above is entry #5
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.

The image above is entry #6
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.

The image above is entry #7
To vote via Facebook, click HERE.

Samhuinn 2014 Open Meeting

Samhuinn 2013 by Richard Winpenny
Samhuinn 2013, photo by Richard Winpenny

Samhuinn 2014 Open Meeting, 3-5pm on Sunday 31st August.
Main Hall, Abbeymount Centre, 2-4 Abbey Mount, Edinburgh (see a map)
Please arrive as close as 3pm as possible as the Centre will only be opened shortly beforehand.

You are welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook Event.

The Cailleach has come forward, the Kings selected and the Court is now complete. Groups have been selected for this year’s Samhuinn so now it’s time for the Open Meeting!

This is a great opportunity for you to come along and hear the stories and visions from this year’s Group Organisers, the Court, meet our Event Co-ordinator for Samhuinn 2014 and see which Group inspires you to take part in this very special event.

Please note that whilst the Abbeymount Centre building is wheelchair accessible, the Main Hall is not (it is up two flights of stairs). We will be in the Regent pub just next door immediately after the Open Meeting which IS wheelchair accessible, and Group Organisers will be available to have a chat about plans and ideas for Samhuinn 2014 there too.

via Judy, BFS Festival Secretary (Judy@beltane.org)

Introducing our Kings

Ian Spike

The two Kings for Samhuinn 2014 are Ian Stuart (above left) and James “Spike” Nisbet (above right).

They started their individual journeys towards the end of 2013, combined in early 2014, and we are particularly drawn to the level of detail they have included in their plans. We look forward to sharing what is shaping up to be a full and intense journey for both of them.

“We are over the moon”, said Ian. “We are really looking forward to this festival: and with over 100 performers in a relatively small number of groups, we hope we can combine to fashion a celebration that will enthrall the audience whilst also capturing the heart of the rituals within.”

Photo of Spike by Richard Winpenny.

Introducing our Group Organisers for Samhuinn 2014

Group Organisers (or GOs, as they’re commonly known in BFS) are the talented, enthusiastic souls who recruit and organise the amazing groups of volunteers who create our festivals. They dedicate ridiculous amounts of time and effort to making the festivals happen and help to facilitate a unique experience for all involved.

Our Group Organisers for Samhuinn 2014 are listed below. Full information about the groups will be appearing on this page over the coming weeks.

Tom Caine and James Armandary

Lila O’Leary

Cearcall ur Nadir (Circle of Nature)
Louise Murray and Siri Pantzar

Photo Point
Mark Taylor and James Illing

Claire Freake and Dave Rowell

Nick Toth and Andrew Marshall

Tanya Simpson and David Simpson

Wild Hunt
Ross Atkinson and Tamara Piddock

Winter Drummers
Dani Jakwerth and Eva Murzyn

To be confirmed

To be confirmed

Introducing our Cailleach

Becky Salter by Anna Chaney at Samhuinn 2013
Becky at Samhuinn 2013, photo by Anna Chaney

As we look to Samhuinn 2014, plans start to form and pieces begin to fall into place. One of the first steps on this road is the selection of the Cailleach. It is a delight to announce that this year She will be brought to life by Becky Salter. We are looking forward to supporting her on her journey.

Deadline reminder for Event Coordinator, Kings, Group Organisers and poster artwork

If you’re considering applying for the Event Coordinator job, Summer or Winter King roles or a Group Organiser position, or submitting artwork for the Samhuinn 2014 promotional poster, now is the time to put the finishing touches on your application or design and get ready to send it! Deadlines and further info as follows…

Event Coordinator
Deadline: 7pm on Friday 1st August 2014
More information here

Summer King and Winter King
Deadline: 7pm on Sunday 3rd August 2014
More information here

Group Organisers
Deadline: Midnight on Sunday 3rd August 2014
More information here

Poster Artwork
Deadline: Saturday 16th August 2014
More information here

Beltaners at the carnival!

Last Sunday, Edinburgh enjoyed glorious weather and a giant party in the centre of town at the Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival. BFS is proud to have taken part in the parade with other theatre, music and dance groups and communities from Scotland and beyond. We don’t always perform during daylight hours, but when we do it looks like this…

BFS at the Carnival 01

BFS at the Carnival 02

BFS at the Carnival 03

BFS at the Carnival 04

BFS at the Carnival 05

BFS at the Carnival 06

BFS at the Carnival 07

BFS at the Carnival 08

BFS at the Carnival 09

BFS at the Carnival 10

BFS at the Carnival 11

Thank you to Winpenny Media for the beautiful photographs. To see more, visit this album on Facebook.

BFS performing at the Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival this Sunday

Beltane Fire Society is super excited to be performing at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival from 2pm this Sunday, 20th July. Two of our (in)famous drum crews, the Beasties and Aos Sidhe, will be serving up epic beats accompanied by dancing, stilt walking, banner carrying, costumed, painted Beltaners showing off our skills in the parade and beyond!

For more information, check out the Jazz and Blues Festival’s website. If you’re a BFS member and you’d like to rock up and take part (painted, costumed and ready to perform), especially if you’re a fire spinner, please get in touch with Ian Stuart on 07811 378 826 as soon as possible to make arrangements (phone number posted with permission).

Carnival time! Beltaners, come and show off your skills at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Samhuinn 2013 Busk by Richard Winpenny
Samhuinn 2013 busk, photo by Richard Winpenny

We have a fantastic opportunity to promote BFS, get dressed and painted up, and have some fun outwith our own festivals!

BFS has been asked to perform at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival from 2pm on 20th July. We have the last position in the parade, so at the end everyone turns to watch us for a short (spontaneous, interactive) performance. We then have a stage in Princes Street Gardens from 2.40pm until 4.15pm for drumming, dancing, and showing off. We’d like to invite all Beltaners to get in touch and take part.

The carnival is hiring in 200 performers from Liverpool who are traditional ‘carnival’ people, i.e. drums, sparkly costumes, dancing…but BFS does something a bit different. Trustees Ian and Liza have already spoken to some of you, including previous Group Organisers, directly. Here are some further ideas for performances you could create or be involved with.

  • Drumming. We definitely have at least two crews on board so far. Fab!
  • Body paint. This is something often lacking in other cavalcades. Yes, people have awesome makeup, but full/partial/all visible-skin-covered paint is unusual. If we can get all people as painted as possible this will make us stand out.
  • Differing heights. This is something else we rock at! Acro, stilts, banners, vertical and horizontal mash ups. We could make a beautiful moving spontaneous performance which is very different from the parade. Walking acro with differing heights, beautifully decorated banners (which we already have), lots of costumed people on stilts, and people fully costumed at street level, dancing to the drums, interacting with each other and the crowd. Also if anyone has puppets, bring it on!
  • Interactions with the crowd. As anyone who has taken a production to the Fringe will know, it’s not about handing out flyers – it’s about actually connecting with the crowd, with the person in front of you. We would love to have some people specifically interacting with the crowd and others in walking-type roles. We’re thinking here of contrasts; the chaos and the focus; it can make a powerful performance.
  • Poi, staff, hula-hoops etc. This is another thing we are really good at. And the performance at the end of the parade (at the end of Frederick Street) we’re allowed fire, although we’re not allowed fire in Princes Street Gardens.
  • To have people walking and performing, and painted up, will be different. Most cavalcade performing groups only have one prop, and although their shows are tight, we have so much more depth.

We’d love to see people showing off their skills; whether playing with fire, dancing, drumming, amazing costuming and interactions. Most of all we’d like this to be huge fun! It’s a chance for BFS to show off to Edinburgh, for us to dress up on a random afternoon in July and talk to strangers, a chance to dance in Princes Street Gardens to our own drummers.

We have involvement from Blues, Beasties, Bud Om Brann, Cambium Force, No Point, Stiltwalkers, Torchbearers and Stewards so far. We’d also love to see lots of people in different costumes and body paint. Please bear in mind that costumes etc don’t have to be from this year – they can be from any BFS performance, so you can resurrect your favorite – so if you want to come along independently of your previous BFS group, please do so. If you’re not a performer but would still like to be involved, there will be plenty of opportunity to help out by chatting with the crowd and promoting our Society.

If you’re interested in taking part, there will be a meeting in room 5.18 of St Margaret’s House (151 London Road, Edinburgh) at 7.30pm on Friday 11th July. Please come along to share your ideas.