Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Festival celebrates the rebirth of summer with fire, dance and drumming

When it comes to big, wild gatherings, Edinburgh is best known for the Fringe Festival, that month long revel dedicated to art, music and drama. There is a much older, if lesser-known, festival however, that’s an equally spectacular event – the Beltane Fire Festival.

The Beltane Fire Festival marks the dawn of summer and the end of frost with bonfires, feasting and rituals meant to appease the aos si – fairy folk who are significantly more bloodthirsty than the ones you find in most modern fairytales.

Along with holidays like Samhuinn, Imbolc and Lùnastal, Beltane was one of the most important, sacred days of the year. Today, this homage to an ancient Celtic holy day once celebrated throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man still takes place annually on the 1st of May, or the next closest weekend night.

The ritual of Beltane

The modern Beltaners, as the members of the Fire Society are affectionately known, have taken these elements and run with them, creating a wild, vivid event that mingles historic Scottish folk practices, reconstructed Celtic ritual and …

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