Beltane Fire Festival

Beltane Fire Festival

Photograph: Ove Hansen

What’s that coming over Calton Hill? Yes, it’s the annual Beltane Fire Festival, complete with fire, frolics and lashings of body paint. Celebrating the beginning of the summer season, the unique festival draws inspiration from ancient Gaelic traditions and the age-old Beltane festival. Look out for the variety of characters on show, like the magisterial May Queen and the red men, who give the event a wholly otherworldly feel. Once their story is played out, a bonfire is lit and the dancing commences, gleefully ensuring a mass celebration of the death of spring and the birth of summer.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Thu 30 Apr.


1. Jon1978Shery1 May 2011, 6:58pm Report

It is a nice idea and I like the pagan atmosphere, but the whole event is realized pretty poorly and definitely does not deserve to be paid so much.

I expected something definitely more organized than the parade they do on the Halloween night on the Royal Mile, instead it was just more messy and overcrowded and the whole choreography was making much less sense.

There was no clear structure, nor any artistic performance beside some standard drumming, masquerade group dancing, very little fire juggling, and absolutely no "plot" behind it.

I mean, they could have worked much more on theatrical aspect of it, build up some narrative, play with new medias, e.g., projections, background music (beside the drumming), engage more the crowd...none of this was done, just an overpopulated poorly lighted space, with painted people dancing randomly around you.

Then, the "after party"...asking at the Hub (where i bought the festival tickets), nobody really knew how to get these other after-party tickets, I have intensively surfed the entire web-sphere but there was no way to get it. I went at the Caves, before 1am (around 00.30) and the bouncer told me that they (the Beltane Organizers) would have sold other tickets for it, but i should have come around 1am. I did so, and the same bouncer now told me that there were no more tickets. Are we jocking, or what? Just state clearly that this after party is mainly for the people involved in the organization (and possibly their friends), and don't cheat blatantly about it just to get more interest around the whole event.

Be honest with what you the end, it is surely a brilliant idea to celebrate rites of nature and I loved that, but please...either ask less money for it or at least try to organize it better...

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