The first Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill, Edinburgh was created in 30 April 1988, led by Angus Farquhar, now of NVA. A few years later, the Beltane Fire Society was formed to continue the annual celebration.
Edinburgh’s Beltane festival originates in the Scottish and Irish Gaelic pre-Christian festivals of the same name. The name itself is thought to have derived from a Gaelic-Celtic word meaning ‘bright/sacred fire’. It was held to mark and celebrate the blossoming of spring, and coincided with the ancient pastoral event of moving livestock to their summer grazing.
Beltane has grown in reputation and scale and currently attracts up to 15,000 revellers with over 300 performers. Its roots lie in the enduring myths of the Earth Goddess, the ritual of the May Queen reunited with her consort, the Green Man. The wishing for a good summer, celebrating rebirth after the long cold winter through the transforming energy of fire and an excuse to get outside and lose yourself in the night, the sites and the rhythms.
photo: © NVA