Beltane Fire Festival

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

9pm to 1am [gates open 6.30pm] -   April 30  (annual event)

Calton Hill

The Beltane Fire Festival has  been held on Calton Hill annually since 1988*.  The Festival used to be free. Since 3004, there has been a charge for entry to cover costs, but all the performers are volunteers.  The entry charge was:

-  2006: 5 on the night:      3 pre-sales (from The Hub)

-  2007: 7 on the night:      5 pre-sales (from The Hub)

I consider this to be still very good value for money!

*  except for 2003 when it was cancelled because the council required the organisers to take out insurance. which they were unable to afford for a festival that then made no charge for spectators.


Ancient Celtic Festival

Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival is organised by the Beltane Fire Society, a non-profit making organisation, run by a committee of volunteers.

The festival welcomes the beginning of summer in the Celtic calendar, and the driving out of winter with fire and drums.

The photographs on this page were all taken at the Beltane Fire Festival in 2006.


Procession around Calton Hill

The main event of the Festival is a procession with torchbearers around Calton Hill.  The procession lasts from about 10pm until midnight, starting at the National Monument on Calton Hill, then moving anti-clockwise around the hill.  Spectators follow the procession as it progresses around the hill.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006  

There 300 volunteer performers who provide their own costumes. These include:

-  The  May Queen, who awakens the elements, earth air, fire and water.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006

-   The Blue Men, druidic spirit guides.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006

-  The Red Men, spirits from the underworld, symbolising chaos, mischief and lust.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006

-   The White Warrior Women, representing, truth, law and order.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006 

-  The  Horned God, who becomes The Green Man, representing the first new growth of summer.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill  -  April 30, 2006

The festival was first held in Edinburgh in the 1980s and is now an annual event.  It takes place on the last day of April each year.

This year, the performers include Fenfire, a group from Austria. 

All 12,000 tickets for the event were sold out shortly after the start of the event at 9pm.  Despite a forecast of showers during the evening, it remained dry until about 11.45pm.

Source of information: 

1. Edinburgh Evening News,  April 29, 2006:  p.11

2.  Article by John Ritchie,

3.  My attendance at the festival, April 30, 2006

The Red Men

Here is a photographs of The Red Men, seen practicing at The Meadows, the day before  The Beltane Fire Festival.

Please click on the thumbnail image below to see other thumbnail images taken on the same occasion.

    At the Meadows  -  Preparing for the Beltane Festival on Calton Hill the following evening 


Arthur's Seat

1 May 2006

Many of the revellers from the Beltane Festival moved on to spend the night on Arthur's Seat, the 823ft high extinct volcano in the centre of nearby Holyrood Park.

There has long been a tradition of young women climbing Arthur's Seat before dawn on 1st May to bathe their faces in the early morning dew - the  'holy water' of the Druids - to preserve their health and beauty for the next year.