Welcome to Beltane.org

Beltane 2010 by Neil Hodgins

Click HERE for Beltane 2015 tickets and info!
Plus Family Parade for kids & their grown-ups

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.

Bower get creative

Photo of some of Bower's lanterns Photo of part of Bower's costume

Judy, one of the Beltane 2015 Bower Group Organisers, shares some behind the scenes pictures and news from the group…

The Bower have been busy making props and costumes. Last weekend, during the first family Beltane arts and crafts session of the year, we made the frames for our tipsy boundary lanterns which will be used to decorate our space on Calton Hill on Beltane night. Today we put the paper on them all and now they are drying in a funky mobile arrangement in preparation for the big night in a couple of weeks.

Family Parade and a thanks to Scotmid!

Beltane 2015 Family Parade banner

This year sees the return of Family Beltane, an event for kids and their grown-ups, which takes place between 4.30pm – 6.30pm on the 30th April, before our evening event. It’s a welcome return for an aspect of our celebration which helps to widen our community. It’s a chance for us to open our festival to the next generation and celebrate the Beltane tradition, and we’re very happy indeed to have it back! Whether you’ve never been involved in Beltane before, or if you’re a member of the community who’s had children and is now less involved in Beltane than you used to be, please allow your little ones to bring you to Calton Hill, and come celebrate.

Before the main Family Parade at Beltane, there will be a drama, music and movement workshop at the Holyrood Rangers Hut in Holyrood Park on Saturday 18th April from 12pm – 2pm. Wear loose clothing and bring a picnic to eat in the park! There’ll also be some willow craft going on. More information can be found here.

Family Parade will include a wishing tree, face painting, puppetry and more. Entry is by donation and you can reserve a place here.

As you may know, we receive very little funding apart from that which we gain from ticket sales to the Beltane Festival, and that’s why we’d like to say a huge Beltane thank you to the Scotmid Co-operative for their community grant, which has helped us buy art materials for Family Parade!

Scotmid_Co-operative_BlueText

The gift of Beltane

Tamara has been a volunteer with BFS since 2012. She says, “Beltane saved my life in not so obvious ways”. Here, she shares her story…

Once upon a time there was me. I was a rather lost person drifting between the time at my job and being lazy at home with nothing to motivate me.

One day someone convinced me to join the Steward team for Samhuinn 2012. I was intrigued with the huge number of people who appeared to participate on the night, with fire dancers, fantastic drummers and the awesome costumes and body paint designs.

I’d never taken part in such a thing before. I was pretty shy around such large numbers of people I hadn’t met before but everyone I was introduced to seemed lovely. But of course these people must be crazy to dance about the streets in front of people!

I was stunned by the sheer numbers of people coming out to watch the procession leave the top of the Royal Mile to Parliament Square, everyone entranced by the costumes and quite often scary characters the performers put on. That night I met the Wild Hunt for the first time and saw a simple look from one of the costumed fiends make people jump back or children cry.

The drums and fire brought the night alive and created an atmosphere I’d not experienced before. The thrill of being part of such a thing was electrifying, even as someone who didn’t quite understand the whole story behind everything just yet.

Something that surprised me, even more than meeting the group known as the Reds, was the community around Beltane. You’d be hard pushed to find a more welcoming community of people who do not judge you on your background, beliefs or lifestyle.

By the time the flowers of spring started to appear, I had got to know some those crazy people better and was convinced again to join in at Beltane 2013 with the fabulous Contact Point.

Tamara at Beltane 2013 by Nicole Taylor

My first Beltane went by in a blur of purples, costumes (in natural fibres only!), the earthy beating of the drums, performances from every group involved and fire, so much fire! My next adventure into this mysterious world of old Celtic traditions and mass crafting sessions was the following Beltane 2014.

As always, the Open Meetings for Beltane or Samhuinn are a thing to be witnessed, full of laughter, joy and endless enthusiasm. The group that caught my attention was Guardians of the Veil (fondly known as Dragon Point!) run by friends met at previous Beltanes.

Guardians of the Veil 2014 by Marlies Turner-Richardson

It was an experience! The amount of work put into the run up to Beltane can only be achieved by a group of dedicated people working tirelessly towards the end goal: to look awesome come April 30th. I think this was achieved with extra thrown in and can show you just what you can do with the help of amazing people.

Beltane 2014 Dragon by James Illing

That Beltane left me feeling something I’d never felt before. I felt accepted. This was a very new feeling after having spent years being the odd one out, for once I was around people who were like-minded and didn’t care about usual stereotypes you find in the ‘real world’.

By the time the summer started I had been asked to be a co-GO (Group Organiser) with a friend. So much excitement! The possibilities. The doubts. Could I do it? Would it be good?

We decided to run a group called the Wild Hunt. This fearsome concept comes from ancient stories and built on the fears of things that go bump in the night.

Tamara at Samhuinn 2014 by Bleu Hope

The experiences from organising the Wild Hunt were invaluable. Not only did I get to work with the greatest group of people who supported us and worked so hard but I also learned a lot about myself in the process.

In the end we rode out on the 31st October 2014 and terrified anyone in our path to aid the Winter Prince in his bid to over throw the Summer King. We won and feasted on Reds for the rest of the night!

Tamara at Samhuinn 2014 by Gyorgy Papp

That was my story before. The girl that started as a shy, uncertain person who knew something was missing from life but has now found a place surrounded by an amazing community made of amazing people. I’m helping to lead a group called the Whites, who are the May Queens warriors, for Beltane 2015 with a good friend. Being a part of the Whites is being a part of a close family and encourages you to accept your failings and build on your strengths. Working with this wonderful group has taught me many things and the best is yet to come!

Fire, drums, and community are powerful things. When I started this journey I had no idea I would be where I am now. Having discovered so much about myself as a person and meeting so many awesome people makes me realise that I had been just waiting for an opportunity like this to allow me to grow. Had I not, I would definitely not be the person I am now and my fire to drive myself forward to experience these new exciting things would not have been lit.

It’s a gift I will always cherish.

Photos (from top): Tamara (middle) at Beltane 2013 by Nicole Taylor, Guardians of the Veil before Beltane 2014 by Marlies Turner-Richardson, the dragon at Beltane 2014 by James Illing, Tamara at Samhuinn 2014 by Bleu Hope, the Wild Hunt at Samhuinn 2014 by Gyorgy Papp.

Huly hill: The Bower visit the Ancestors

Photo of Huly Hill

Alex from the Beltane 2015 Bower talks about the group’s recent visit to Huly Hill…

Out on the edge of Edinburgh in one of the most unlikely places lurks a hidden treasure of Edinburgh’s past. Bower met to explore sacred spaces and the old sites that mean a lot to some people. We gathered on a bright but cold day – thankful that we all found the place easily enough and discussed what we were going to do that day.

We had prepared a little for the day, agreeing that we wanted to practice our opening ritual. We were all very clear that the most important thing we had to do was define space and so we set about working out how to do that most effectively for us. We familiarised ourselves with the site – the central mound has three large stones marking its immediate boundary.

After we did that we then processed around again and using Smudge, Salt, Water, a (sheltered) candle and the sound of a drum and bullroarer we made our way around the circle, building our intention to mark the space and banish any negative influences.

As we reached the end we gathered in a circle to discuss how we thought it had gone and we were approached by a woman. She asked what we were doing and was pleased that the circle was getting some attention as she felt these old spaces were not getting looked after properly. She confided to us that she was coming to the circle for comfort as she had an operation coming up and she asked for some of the smudge to be wafted over her. The group then offered her a sound bath which she accepted and said she felt very grateful. We wished her well and left her to continue her visit to the circle.

We then settled down next to the mound and shared a picnic lunch and discussed how we felt the visit was going.

This pretty much sums up Bower. We seek to create a safe space where people can come when they have need of rest or comfort and then ground ourselves by sharing in the community that we create and safely returning the energies to the ground.

Thanks to Judy for the pictures.

Remembering the lost

Photo of one of the Whites' candle lanterns

Tamara and Louise, Group Organisers of the Whites at Beltane 2015, would like to introduce a new feature of their character this year – candle lanterns (pictured above)…

As we emerge from darkness led by our May Queen to aid in the coming change to Summer.

We remember what was lost.

Those who did not make it and are no longer with us in body. Those lost moments that changed something in us forever. Lost feelings that still burn deep inside, but no longer have anywhere to go.

This is part of our role, to bring those moments with us to join us on our journey with our May Queen while she guides the Green Man to his place of rebirth.

We will carry lanterns to gather the souls and memories of those lost to us and gift them to the enchanted garden. Such a wondrous place guarded by equally wondrous creatures who will protect these beacons of light for all of us.

For this one magical night our lost loved ones can join us again, if not in body then in spirit and fire.

In this wonderful place we invite all who wish to have a moment to remember those you’ve lost or moments that have gone and join us on our journey towards Summer. Together we will create an extraordinary moment to remember.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Beltane 2015 Aerie Rehearsal by Antia Brey

Beltane 2015 Aerie Rehearsal by Bleu Hope

Beltane 2015 Aerie Rehearsal by Mark Taylor

BFS volunteers love to get messy and creative, as these pictures from Photo Point’s visit to a mask-making session with the Aerie clearly show. While they wrapped their faces in cling film (as you do), our Beltane birds offered some perfectly reasonable answers to that age-old question…

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because the dinosaurs were dead.

I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

For the greater good.

Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I’ll find out.

Forty-two.

The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road”, and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

For fun !

You tell me.

It was a hen!

… it could no longer remember. It had been crossing the road forever, or so it seemed, and the road stretched out as far as the eye could see both ahead and behind.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a car sped past, spinning the chicken round and round and leaving him dazed and disoriented. Picking himself up he looked back to the horizon and realized…

He could no longer tell which way was forwards and which was back.

He stands there still.

See more rehearsal and preparation photos in this album on the BFS Facebook page.

Photos (from top) by Antia Brey, Bleu Hope and Mark Taylor.

Games, noise and masks with the Aerie

The Aerie share some video from their Beltane 2015 rehearsals…


Making masks and lots of noise!


Playing games in Holyrood Park after a rehearsal.

There was a Processional Drummer…

Processional Drummers rehearsing at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, for Beltane 2015 by Bleu Hope

Processional Drummers rehearsing at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, for Beltane 2015 by Gyorgy Papp

Processional Drummers rehearsing at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, for Beltane 2015 by James Illing

Processional Drummers rehearsing at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, for Beltane 2015 by Milan Chudjak

Processional Drummers rehearsing at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, for Beltane 2015 by Neil Barton

Fabulous pictures from Photo Point of the Beltane 2015 Processional Drummers rehearsing in the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, with some bonus (gloriously bizarre) wordage from the group…

There was a Processional Drummer
who did not know her sticks from her beaters
her back to her front
or her left from her right
so she decided to take both and think about how
she was going going to manage with it. If only she had known
it would eat all her avocadoes
And then it would eat all her jelly babies
So she shut it in the garden shed and went for a walk.
On the walk she met a goblin
He said: “would you like to travel the seas?”
“Why, of course! But first, I shall have to polish my port-hole, for it is dull!”
“But Holmes!”, I ejaculated
He sighed, and wiped off my creamy white indignation with his silk handkerchief.
“Don’t worry”, he said, “I eat asparagus
every week. No child goes without in my gaff.”
And with that she picked him up and stuffed
a stalk in his mouth. He chewed it up and spat it out in her
face and then planted a kiss square on her nose.
Suddenly, from each point of their visceral
and eviscerating contact a tree spouted, flowered,
instantaneously bearing fruit.
Sadly, we are all born in sin, and the fruits of sin are
death. Every one died without finding out what was going on,
which is only appropriate as none of them had ever
understood it before either.

See more rehearsal and preparation photos in this album on the BFS Facebook page.

Photos (from top) by Bleu Hope, Gyorgy Papp, James Illing, Milan Chudjak and Neil Barton.

Random Points of Kindness and beautiful noise

Photo of Random Points of Kindness

Random Points of Kindness (a few of their happy group members are pictured above) will be interacting with the audience through their eyes, ears, hearts and hands at Beltane. Recently they have been exploring the use of sound as a method of communication and interaction.

This beautiful slice of sound is based on a song honouring those that have departed and welcoming in new people. It will be used during a brief interaction at the start of the night when lanterns, representing those no longer with us, are handed over to Random Points of Kindness and their enchanted garden.

Thanks to Kindness’ Group Organisers Kat and Cat for today’s multimedia blog!

The Aerie, loitering within tent

The Aerie

The Aerie is a new group for Beltane 2015. They represent the place birds have long held in society as messengers and portents, and their presence on the Hill will be a powerful (and colourful) omen for the audience. In the midst of rehearsing, making costumes and creating their unique characters, they went on a weekend away camping with some of the other groups – even messengers of the gods need time off!

Thanks to Group Organisers Jay and Andrew for the photo.