Beltane Fire Festival
On the last night of April and first day of May up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for a ritualised and theatrical pantheistic celebration to mark the arrival of Summer. This year (2012) is the 25th anniversary of Beltane and promises to be a special one.
This revival of the ancient Celtic fertility festival of Beltane started as a free event in 1988 and continues to be very popular, in spite of increasing crowd-control measures and past funding problems.
Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields. In Edinburgh's revivalist celebration, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Society celebrate the ending of the dreich Scottish winter and the (hoped-for) season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around the hill.
The fire festival, which features a May Queen, a Green Man, Red Men, and Beastie Drummers, includes some nudity and "uninhibited behaviour."
Beltane tickets are £6.00 (plus booking fee) available from The Hub, Ripping Records, or Ticket Scotland. A limited number of tickets are available on the night for £8.00, available only from Calton Hill's Carriage Drive entrance, on Regent Road.