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.

Lots of enthusiasm but not much time? Check out Bucketeers for Samhuinn!

Marlies, our Group Organiser for Bucketeers this Samhuinn, would like to hear from you…

Bucketeers would love for you to come and join in the fun. If you would like to help out the Society, get dressed up and painted yet have little time available then Bucketeering is for you!

Bucketering is an important group as it helps provide funding for the Society by collecting money from the lovely audience. We cant shake buckets but that doesn’t mean they cant move with you when you dance to the beats of the drums.

The times that you need to be available for is one walk through, the busk and the night of Samhuinn.

You can contact me at bucketeers@beltane.org if you are interested.

Want to photograph Samhuinn? Photo Point are waiting to hear from you!

Mark and James from Photo Point are looking for one more photographer to join their team for Samhuinn. Taking part in the festival as a member of Photo Point is an opportunity to be involved in the event from a different perspective and shoot stunning pictures from the midst of all the action, as our own photographers get access that audience members and even press photographers don’t have.

As well as shooting on the night itself, Photo Point have the option to take pictures at rehearsals and capture behind-the-scenes moments too. This unique volunteer role offers a chance to build on your existing photography skills and learn new ones, as part of a fun and exciting festival experience.

Any skill level, from beginner to pro, is welcome. In terms of equipment, you will need your own dSLR (or equivalent), preferably with an external flash. Photo Point meet on Wednesday evenings and one weekend afternoon, which can be Saturday or Sunday depending on circumstances. For more information, please get in touch with Mark and James as soon as possible at photopoint@beltane.org

Call for proposals for Yule 2014 and Imbolc 2015

“What?!”, we hear you say, “Yule and Imbolc? But we haven’t had Samhuinn yet!”

We know, but rest easy. The Trustees are not looking for a event plan to leap fully formed from your imagination like Athena from Zeus’ forehead…unless you already have one drafted out of course. Do you have a vision or story that you would love to tell, a gathering that you’d love to co-ordinate or host?

The Trustees are looking for an outline of a proposal for either event. What dates are you looking at, for instance? Once a date has been chosen, are you thinking of something inside or outside, afternoon or evening? The Trustees can chat with you about your proposal and support you in taking it forward.

The deadlines for proposals to the Trustees are 10pm on Sunday 21st September for Yule 2014 and 10pm on Sunday 12th October for Imbolc 2015. If you would like to submit a proposal, please email the BFS Festival Secretary at festival@beltane.org with any questions, queries, or to request a proposal form to fill in for submission to the Trustees.

Cearcall ur Nadir would love to have you!

Siri and Louise from Cearcall ur Nadir would like to invite you to join them…

Cearcall ur Nadir had our first practice today. From a GO point of view, it was wonderful. Seeing how all the things you planned turned into something much greater due to the people involved warmed the heart of this first-time group organiser. What we have is a lovely, intimate and enthusiastic bunch of people. We would be happy to go forward with this. But we are excited about what we can offer and experience as a group and we could fit more people in to that experience, which is why this post exists. We want you, and it is possible you want us but haven’t realised it yet.

Cearcall ur Nadir might be your thing, if you feel excited about the following:

    Exploring the elements (that is, air, fire, water and earth) and how they are related to you and your life and the change that’s happening in the nature right now.
    Looking at the processes and rituals of birth and death, beginning and end. You might even get to do a death scene. Not kidding.
    Having a unique role in the festival and exploring all the things that can offer. Ever wanted to do a skirt out of dead leaves? Sure thing. Making fire fans? Having wings? Handing flowers to the audience? Blowing bubbles? There are so many things you can do in-element and once you’ve got your role, you’ll have loads of freedom in interpreting it.
    Having a network of new and old friends helping out and enjoying the journey with you. Once you have your role, you’ll have element buddies, winter or summer bunch and the entire Cearcall ur Nadir to draw energy from and contribute to. Be it helping out with costumes or panicking before the night, you’ll have someone there for you.
    Learning movement and performance or enhancing what you already know. Have you ever tried to represent ice or wildfire or think like a winter storm? Me neither, let’s figure it out.
    Concentrating, calming down, enjoying a refuge from the real world, finding or renewing your connection with the nature and the world around us.

If that sounds like your piece of cake and you haven’t signed up for any group yet, or have signed up but the group you’re with is facing cuts, come along on Saturday (12.30-4.30pm, St. Mags and outdoors, be prepared) and see if you would fit in. We would love to experience this journey together with all of you! If you have any questions, please drop us a line on circleofnature@beltane.org . Also do so if you’re planning to come along on Saturday, so we know who to expect.

Something wolfy this way comes

Our Cailleach introduces her familiar, or at least parts of it, so far…

This year the Samhuinn prep started pretty early. A couple of months early! With the help of the ‘wolf pack’ (affectionately named group of compulsive volunteers, they just can’t help themselves) we already have the skeleton of one of our performers this year…

In Celtic mythology the Cailleach is often portrayed as riding a great wolf across mountain and sky as she brings the storms and ice of winter. This is reflected in her affiliation with deer, wolf and boar as blessed beasts. It is fascinating that she shows favour to both the deer and yet also their main predator. The wolf as Her familiar therefore is a poignant representation of the inner ferocity of the Cailleach; although described as watching over the herds and deterring hunters she also acts to cull the weak to preserve the strength of their kin. Like winter and like the wolf, She is a symbol of death and of balancing forces of destruction. This year the Cailleach will be joined by her lupine familiar, a physical representation of her wild power and her will whilst she processes veiled.

Wolf Manufacture

Wolf Manufacture

Wolf Manufacture

Wolf Manufacture

Wolf Manufacture

Wolf Manufacture
Photos of wolf manufacture by James Illing

A huge thank you to everyone who has offered their help in making this great beast! An exciting start to the festival preparations!

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