May Queen, Blue Men and other characters from Beltane Fire Festival
Credit: Gordon Veitch | Beltane Fire Society

Beltane Fire Festival 2019

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Tue 30 Apr 2019, Calton Hill.

The Beltane Fire Festival takes place on Calton Hill on the night of 30th April each year. It marks the death of winter and the birth of summer. Now in its 32nd year, this modern interpretation of a Pagan ritual has become a popular spectacle. Crowds of up to 12,000 people gather to revel in the unique atmosphere, as a vibrant procession of around 300 performers act out the story of the Beltane.

The Beltane Experience

A range of colourful characters bring together the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water) in a procession on Calton Hill. It’s led by the May Queen of summer, as she begins her ritual courtship of the Green Man of winter. Torch bearers, fire archers, white women, red and blue men all have their parts to play in the story.

This is a unique ‘investigative theatre’ experience with no central stage and no physical barriers between performer and audience. The action takes place outdoors in multiple areas of Calton Hill over a continuous period. Much of the story follows the May Queen’s procession. But, there are many counter-performances dotted all over the hill to ensure everyone has a chance to see and be involved. The procession awakens one group of characters after another and each plays a part in bringing the hill to life. The event concludes with the lighting of the Beltane bonfire.

Visit the Beltane Fire Festival

The Beltane begins at around 8 pm and ends in the early hours of the morning. To witness it for yourself, you can purchaseĀ ticketsĀ online in advance. You can also get them on the night at the box office, subject to availability. Full details for this year’s event will be available soon on the Beltane Fire Society website. Recommended for over 18s.