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.

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.

Pre-application session for prospective Group Organisers

No Point at Samhuinn 2013 by Stephen Yu
No Point at Samhuinn 2013, photo by Stephen Yu

7pm on Monday 21st July
White Horse Bar (266 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8AA)

Attention BFS volunteers thinking of applying to run a group at Samhuinn 2014! This is a chance to meet with Board members, Blues, experienced and prospective Group Organisers (GOs) in a friendly and open setting. You are welcome to discuss your ideas in advance (if you want to) and ask for support and advice to help progress your concept into a fully-fledged application.

It presents a great opportunity to find a collaborative partner if you have a fantastic idea and are looking for a second GO to work with. If you’ve never GO’d before and are considering applying to run a group, come along and have a chat with people who have been there, done that.

If you’ve run a group before but aren’t planning to put in an application for this festival, you’re still very welcome to come along as your experience is extremely valuable and you could provide support and advice to others by sharing your knowledge.

See you there!

Ps. The bar usually has crisps etc but we’ve been informed that unfortunately more substantial food won’t be available on Monday night, so if you want a bit of a munch, grab something on your way :-)

You are welcome to register your attendance on the Facebook event page.

Selection of the Cailleach

Cailleach 2013 by Richard Winpenny
The Cailleach at Samhuinn 2013, photo by Richard Winpenny

The process for selecting the Cailleach differs from that of the Kings. The Kings are big presence, with the character often built on ego, their first step in their journey is self-nomination.

The Cailleach on the other hand, is not a role born of such ego, as such, She is instead chosen from amongst the society. Essentially, everyone is a possible candidate. A group consisting of the Blues and other experienced volunteers, including trustees, is formed. A brainstormed list is created, without judgement, from what these people have been observing and hearing. As this happens, feelers are put out, names are put forward by other people and enquiries are made. This list is then discussed in detail until 2 or 3 names remain. The Blues then use this shortlist for further discussion. Their preferred candidate is put forward to the Board for approval.

Ultimately, the reason She is chosen is many-fold, but the primary one is the same reason the Kings are asked to come forward, that is: it is part of the nature of the role.

Cailleach 2012 by Raini Scott
The Cailleach at Samhuinn 2012, photo by Raini Scott

Samhuinn Fire Festival is requesting that its Summer and Winter Kings make themselves known

Samhuinn Kings 2013 by Richard Winpenny
Winter King (left) and Summer King (right) at Samhuinn 2013, photo by Richard Winpenny

With Midsummer past, our thoughts turn to the celebration of Autumn and the festival of Samhuinn on 31st October. Beltane Fire Society is looking for the Kings of Summer and Winter to help us tell this festival’s tale: one of the turning of seasons and of leadership and guidance for the coming months.

The deadline for application is 7pm Sunday 3rd August, with interviews of the candidates on Tuesday 5th August.

Our Summer King
Bounteous provider; giver of life, nourishment, and fertility; and celebrant. They remind us of hot, lazy summer days, ripe fruits on the trees, and endless nights of feasting and merriment. Waning since Lughnasadh…

Our Winter King
Bringer of the cold, dark nights of winter; the decisive frosts, gales and snow. Their duty to clear away the weak and overripe, cleanse the land with their icy breath, and to challenge. The waxing power.

How do you see these characters, these rulers of nature, leaders of the seasons and brothers-in-
conflict? Which would you like to be? How will you fend off or welcome in the Winter?

We are looking for a coordinated storyline between summer and winter, and thus are happy to accept pairs, but we are also happy to meet individuals who are willing to work with others.

Please send your applications, notes of interest or questions about these roles to blues@beltane.org

Event Coordinator wanted for Samhuinn 2014

Samhuinn 2013 by Mark Taylor
Photo of Samhuinn 2013 by Mark Taylor

Job title: Event Coordinator
Company: Beltane Fire Society Ltd
Location: Edinburgh
Salary: Paid (ask for details)

Job description
The Beltane Fire Society (BFS) need someone to step up for the important role of coordinating the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2014.

What does this role involve?
It involves dedicating a couple of months of your life, paid for by Beltane Fire Society, to organising one of the most unique and spectacular events in the world!

In summary, the key responsibilities of the event coordinator are as follows:

• To coordinate the event on the night.
• To help manage the budget for event finances and administration.
• To organise the event staff, volunteers and subcontractors.
• To negotiate with City of Edinburgh Council and Police Scotland on behalf of BFS about permits/licenses, road closures, public safety and clean-up.
• To liaise with emergency services through City of Edinburgh Council’s EPOG (Event Planning & Operations Group) process.
• To maintain good relations with local residents, businesses and other key stakeholders.
• To keep the event on track by coordinating all the necessary meetings, rehearsals and walkthroughs.

Coordinating a Beltane Fire Society event is a challenging and thrilling experience, and you won’t be on your own; the Board of Directors and previous event coordinators will be on hand to offer help and advice.

If you are interested in this role please send your CV along with a short proposal covering one side of A4 answering each of the following areas:

• Your previous experience of coordinating, producing or managing events
• Your previous experience of Beltane Fire Society or similar organisations
• Any specific ideas that you might have for the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2014
• Your previous experience of leading and inspiring volunteers

Please note that while we are very willing to be flexible about working arrangements we can only consider submissions from people who can make the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2014 a primary focus between the end of August until the second week in November 2014.

If you are interested please contact festival@beltane.org for further details and please note that all submissions should be sent electronically to festival@beltane.org

Interviews expected to be held on the 4th and 5th August 2014.

Deadline: Friday 1st August 2014, 7pm
Contact details: festival@beltane.org
Website address: http://www.beltane.org

Please download this document for your application:
Samhuinn 2014 Event Coordinator Advert, Job Description and Person Specification

Group Organisers wanted for Samhuinn 2014

Winter Riders at Samhuinn 2013 by Mark Taylor
The Winter Riders at Samhuinn 2013, photo by Mark Taylor.

Midsummer may have barely past but preparations for Samhuinn are beginning. Beltane Fire Society is looking for driven group organisers to help bring together a vision of Summer’s waning or Winter’s waxing…depending on your perspective! We want to know your plans for a group – it could be the return of an old character or aspect of our story, something completely new, or a re-imagining of the old into the new.

We’re looking for those of you that can commit time, effort and ideas to shaping this year’s festival, to bring your plans for this event to the table, and help lead and guide others in celebrating this festival. Your role will involve organising volunteers, developing your story and key moments with the rest of the organisers, making props and costumes, choreography, music or rhythms, and giving a body and voice to our event. In return, we can offer you an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference to others by inspiring them on their journey to celebrate the start of Winter.

The application can be downloaded via the links at the bottom of this blog entry, along with some guidelines on filling it in, and an example. But don’t let the paperwork put you off – the questions are straightforward and there are no tricks – we just want to know as much about you and your plans so that we can get a feel for how the festival will fit together this year. You don’t have to have been an organiser for a BFS event before to apply, but we do want to know you’ve thought out your plans!

The deadline for applications is MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY 3RD AUGUST.
Applications should be sent to festival@beltane.org

We will be having an informal gathering in the coming weeks for anyone who is interested in organising and wants to ask questions, try out their ideas or needs help applying. The Blues, past Group Organisers and Board Members will be there to help you along. Details to follow soon.

We look forward to seeing your applications!

Samhuinn 2014 Group Organiser Guidance
Samhuinn 2014 Group Organiser example form
Samhuinn 2014 Group Organiser Application Form

Invitation to submit poster artwork for Samhuinn 2014

With preparations for the Samhuinn Fire Festival beginning, it’s time to invite you to submit your beautiful artwork for consideration for the Samhuinn 2014 poster. The chosen submission will be on posters and flyers all over Edinburgh and will also be used in our online promotion and press advertising in the run-up to the festival. ALL members of BFS are welcome to submit their creations and if you have any arty friends who think could make something amazing for us, feel free to pass this information on to them.

Samhuinn is a time of the changing of the seasons, of the battle between summer and winter and of the Celtic new year – a time when the veil draws thin and the spirits draw closer to us.

Our Samhuinn festival has its roots in medieval street theatre, the traditions of all Hallow’s Eve. The Summer and Winter Kings battle for control of the seasons, overseen by the Cailleach, whose grief and sorrow at the death of summer brings forth the darkness and storms of winter. It is a time for celebration, summers ‘last gasp’ of opulent decadence, but also a time of icy bleakness – the finality of winter’s arrival and the hard months ahead.

Our event is a community celebration of this changing of the seasons – and our poster should appeal to the wider community in Edinburgh and beyond. It should reflect the story and characters highlighted above to appeal to draw in those who know the Samhuinn story, but also attract those who are newcomers to our festivals.

- Because of the need to print a large poster from the chosen design, it’s advisable not to submit something which you only have a tiny copy of. A postcard-sized painting is never going to look great printed to A2 size, even with a fantastically good scan or photo taken of it.

- When printing posters and flyers, a bleed edge is required. This is the part of the image at the edge which shouldn’t contain any important details. The exact size of the bleed edge varies between printing services, so to be on the safe side please keep any important details at least 2 cms from each edge. If you’re having difficulty with this, don’t worry – we can help you with it or add a border if required.

- Please ensure that all files are in CMYK colour format, NOT RGB!

- Wherein possible saving the file as a vector graphic is preferable as it will scale better an be easier to work with if changes are needed before sending to print.

- Information in the form of text, as well as a BFS logo, will need to be added to the finished design. Although the placement of this depends on the design that we choose to use, it’s worth bearing in mind when creating your submission.

- You are welcome to include the text Samhuinn 2014 in your submission if you feel that your submission would benefit from having the text in a similar style to the rest of the artwork, but this isn’t necessary or essential.

- Don’t forget to sign your artwork! We appreciate that you’re offering your creations on a voluntary basis, so we’d like you to have your signature on there somewhere.

- The final design will be chosen by online vote, so please send us a small version of your artwork (1000px wide is fine) as a level 8 jpg file which we can display online.

- You can submit more than one design if you like, but please submit each only once! There is no need to send a draft or sketch first, and there’s no advantage to submitting early. If it takes you right up until the deadline to complete your work, then please take that time. All submissions will be posted for voting at the same time in August.

- Due to strict time constraints based on printing and distribution requirements, it will not be possible to accept unfinished artwork with an “it will be done by [insert date here]” promise, and late entries will not be able to be accepted.

- EMAIL your submission to festival@beltane.org


If you need some inspiration, feast your eyes on previous years’ artwork…

Samhuinn 2013 Poster by Phil Obermarck

Samhuinn 2012 Poster

Samhuinn 2011 Poster

Samhuinn 2008 Poster

Samhuinn 2006 Poster

Samhuinn 2007 Poster

Samhuinn 2005 Poster

Samhuinn 2004 Poster