Everything you need to know about Edinburgh's Samhuinn Fire Festival

Everything you need to know about Edinburgh's Samhuinn Fire Festival

credit: Raini Scott

Where to see it, how much it costs and where to get the best view this All Hallow's Eve

Halloween. Big deal, right? When it boils down to it, Halloween's nothing more than an annual battle to keep in the plastic vampire teeth you panic bought from the Pound Shop, and an exercise in willpower: will you eat that multipack of Haribo before the trick of treaters come a calling?

If you're looking for something to do on 31 Oct that doesn't involve consuming mass amounts of e numbers and wearing a supermarket-bought cape, try Samhuinn: the spectacular fire festival that takes place in Edinburgh annually. Here's everything you need to know about the atmospheric event which celebrates the Celtic new year.

What's it all about?
Samhuinn signals the end of summer and the beginning of winter. At the event, storytellers don costumes and face paint, so that they can tell the story of the battle between the Summer and Winter King. Spoiler alert: winter wins this time, but spring gets one over on him come Beltane.

How do they tell the story?
Through performance, music and dance. The whole thing is overseen by Cailleach: Celtic representation of the Goddess, or Divine Hag. The parts of the Cailleach, the Winter King and the Summer King are played by members of the Beltane Fire Society, who organise events. According to the organisers, 'The narrative focuses on this conflict and its resolution, but also focuses on the transition that many aspects of life take during the changing of the seasons.'

Right then, where can I see it?
This year, The procession begins at the top end of the Royal Mile (near Edinburgh Castle) and will then head down the Mile to West Parliament Square for the main stage performance.

Should I follow the procession, or wait at West Parliament Square?
Well, sure, but the society do warn that things can get a wee bit crowded, and it may mean not seeing very much at all. You can always stand on the Royal Mile and watch the procession make its way down, or you can settle in early at West Parliament to get a good view of the final show.

What time does it start?

Is there fire?

Can kids come?
At parental discretion.

What if it's raining?
Bring an umbrella.

How much is it?
Free, but you can make a donation via Paypal, or to a bucketeer on the night.

Samhuinn Fire Festival

Hosted by Beltane Fire Society, the Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. The change of seasons is brought to life through wild drumming, fire-dancing, acrobatics, and vibrant costumes.