Welcome to Beltane.org

Beltane 2010 by Neil Hodgins

Formed in 1988, Beltane Fire Society is a community arts performance charity that hosts the Beltane Fire Festival and Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For more information about the Society, our world-famous festivals and how you can get involved, navigate using the menu on the left. Scroll down for our latest news.

Want to take part in Samhuinn 2016? Join us at the Open Meeting!

Beltane Fire Society is a not-for-profit registered charity in Scotland.
Charity Number SC040137. Company Number SC341753.

Photograph by Neil Hodgins, taken at Beltane Fire Festival 2010.

2 Day deadline reminder for Samhuinn Group Organiser volunteer role and Event Coordinator job

Group Organiser applications

If you’re planning to apply to run a performance or production group, or submit a project proposal, for Samhuinn 2016 you have two days to put the finishing touches on your application and get it submitted for review before the deadline of 10pm on Friday 29th July. You can find all details you could possibly need, along with the application form and related documentation, here.

Event Coordinator applications

If you’re considering applying for the job of Event Coordinator for Samhuinn 2016 and Beltane 2017, the deadline for applications is also 10pm on Friday 29th July. You can find the full advert, job descripton and personal specification here.

2 weeks left to apply for Court roles, 1 day left to nominate someone else

If you’re considering apply for the role of Cailleach, Summer King or Winter King at Samhuinn 2016 you have TWO WEEKS to submit your application before the deadline of 10pm on Sunday 7th August.

If you’re thinking of nominating another BFS member for one of those roles, you have until 10pm tomorrow (Monday 25th July) to send your nominations.

All the info about applying and nominating can be found in this blog post. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

ONE WEEK left to submit your Samhuinn 2016 Group Organiser applications!

Samhuinn 2015 by Martin McCarthy

If you’re thinking of applying to run a performance or production group, or submit a project proposal, for Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016, now is the time! The deadline for applications and proposals is 10pm on Friday 29th July – that’s only one week away. You can find all the info you could possibly need, including guidance and application forms, here.

Part of the beauty of Samhuinn is the freedom to interpret the story without as much traditional structure as we have at Beltane. Some wonderfully original and exciting groups have made their first appearance at Samhuinn over the last few years. This is an opportunity to explore your creative potential and make your weirdest, wildest ideas a reality.

Performance group applications so far are leaning ever so slightly towards the summery side and more of a balance would be ideal, so if you’re feeling the winter vibe, it’s time to get writing. We’re also a bit light on big beats at the moment, so we’d like to encourage drum crews to get your gloriously noisy skates on and submit your applications!

Production groups – that’s Stewards, Tech, Bucketeers and Photopoint/Videopoint – we 100% absolutely need you, so if you think you might have the skills and experience necessary to coordinate those particular teams of epic volunteers, please do get in touch. If you, or you and a couple of friends, have an amazing idea for something to make, build or do that doesn’t require the recruitment additional hands (puppets perhaps!), then a project proposal could be the perfect option for you.

If any prospective GOs have questions about the application process, please contact our lovely Festival Secretaries, Danielle and Erin, via festival@beltane.org

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Martin McCarthy

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 Open Meeting on 28th August

Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 Open Meeting

2-5pm on Sunday 28th August 2016

The Calton Centre, 121 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh, EH7 5EP


Calling all drummers, dancers, clowns, musicians, acrobats, fire spinners, puppet makers, techies, artists, crafters, costumers, photographers, film-makers, event stewards and all-round epic people with a desire to be part of a world-famous festival event, bringing an exciting and fiery modern twist to Celtic traditions!

Yes, it’s Samhuinn time again and we’d like to invite YOU to come along and get involved in creating our amazing public ritual celebration of the turning of seasons from Summer to Winter in the atmospheric and beautiful centre of Edinburgh. Whether you’re a long-time BFS member, a seasoned performer or you want to come along for the first time and take part, Samhuinn Fire Festival offers an awesome opportunity to learn new skills, make fabulous friends and be part of a truly unique experience. Everyone is welcome!

The Open Meeting provides an opportunity for you to hear about the performance and production groups you can join, talk to the organisers, find out more about the festival that happens on 31st October and sign up to take part.

You are welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event page.

The Calton Centre is surrounded by on-street parking, has a ramp at the entrance, and accessible interior and toilets.

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

BFS volunteers spread the carnival joy

Our volunteers are a pretty amazing bunch of people. They not only create two world-famous fire festivals every year but also take part in other events around Scotland in the in-between times. For the third year running, BFS joined in the Edinburgh Festival Carnival, bringing a unique style of performance to a daytime parade and connecting with communities from Edinburgh and beyond. Our volunteer photographers captured some beautiful moments throughout the day. Enjoy!

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Bleu Hope

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Bleu Hope

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by James Illing

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by James Illing

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Martin McCarthy

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Martin McCarthy

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Neil Barton

BFS at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival 2016 by Neil Barton

You can see lots more photos in this album on Facebook. Our page and everything on it is set to Public so you don’t have to be a Facebook user to enjoy our content.

Photos x2 each by (from top) Bleu Hope, James Illing, Martin McCarthy and Neil Barton

2 week deadline reminder for prospective Event Coordinators and Group Organisers

Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

July is a busy month in BFS world because it’s when people with great ideas start to build the foundations of Samhuinn. If you’re considering applying to run a performance or production group, or submit a project proposal, for our next festival you have two weeks to send in your application before the deadline of 10pm on Friday 29th July. For full information, documentation and application forms, please visit this blog post.

We’re hosting a pre-application session for anyone thinking of applying for a Samhuinn Court, Group Organiser or Project role tomorrow (Saturday 16th July) at Kilderkin, Edinburgh. You can find full details of the session at this Facebook event.

If coordinating epic events if your thing, we’re still on the look-out for an Event Coordinator for Samhuinn 2016. This is a job-job, not a volunteer position, and you can find all the details, job description and person specification here. Don’t delay though – the deadline for Event Coordinator applications is 7pm on Friday 29th July so we’re looking forward to hearing from you very soon!

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

Samhuinn 2016 poster competition: 1 month until the deadline!

If you’re thinking of submitting a design to the ‪Samhuinn 2016‬ poster competition, you have ONE MONTH until the deadline on 13th August!
Full information, including downloadable graphics and text that must be included in every submission, can be found here. We can’t wait to see your creations!

Samhuinn 2016 Court, Group Organiser and Project Applications Now Being Accepted

Samhuinn 2015 by Martin McCarthy

With Midsummer past, our thoughts turn to the celebration of Autumn and the festival of Samhuinn on 31st October. Beltane Fire Society is looking for our crone goddess the Cailleach, and Kings of Summer and Winter, as well as performance and production group organisers and creative projects to help us tell this festival’s tale: one of the turning of the seasons, the coming of cold and dark which presses for leadership and guidance for the coming Winter months.

To make it easier to find and share information, everything relating to court applications, performance and production group organiser applications, and project proposals can be found right here (in that order, if you want to scroll to get to the bit that’s relevant to you).

There will be a pre-application session at Kilderkin (67 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BT) from 2-5pm on Saturday 16 July where you can chat with other prospective crones, kings, GOs and project proposers as well as Trustees, Blues and experienced GOs and festival participants. Come along if you’d like to know more (the official Facebook event page is HERE), and contact festival@beltane.org with any questions.


Court (Cailleach, Summer King, Winter King)

Samhuinn 2016 Court Application Form
Samhuinn 2016 Court Selection Process

Our Cailleach
The Crone facet of the Goddess, ancient and powerful; the Cailleach brings forth the cold and dark of Winter in her wisdom. An arbiter of the struggle between that of Summer and Winter forces embodied in the Kings’ feud- she is the tipping point and the one whose decision spreads through the land on icy winds, covering them in a blanket of white with her gift of Winter.

Our Summer King
Bounteous provider, giver of life, nourishment and fertility, and celebrant. They remind us of hot, lazy, Summer days, ripe fruits on the trees, and endless nights of feasting and merriment. Waning since Lughnasadh…

Our Winter King
A being of the cold, dark nights of winter; the decisive frosts, gales and snow. Their instinct is to clear away the weak and overripe, to cleanse the land much as the ice does and to challenge. This would be their reign in the coming season. Theirs is the waxing power…
How do you see these characters? Their stories and motivations and their relationships to one another and the wider community? Which do you feel a great affinity to? How will you fend off or welcome in the Winter?

If you are a BFS member with an interest in any of the three roles, we invite you to apply. We welcome a coordinated storyline between Summer and Winter and would therefore encourage prospective Kings (with or without your Cailleach) to apply in sets, but we are also happy to meet individuals who are willing to work with others. We encourage this just to help in a cohesive story as Kings especially work closely in developing their interaction on the night.

We are also welcoming input from our members to nominate anyone that you strongly feel would do justice to these key roles in Samhuinn’s festivities. This would simply highlight this person as a vote of confidence, potentially leading to them being invited to put forward an application if they have not yet done so. Sometimes it takes others to highlight our potential for us to go forward to manifest it.


How the process will work
Take a look at the full court selection process document for detail. The short version is that performers for each of the three court roles for Samhuinn will be selected from those who apply. Selection will be made by two members of the Board of Trustees and current Blues, using specific criteria, set out in the selection process document. Any BFS member who feels they fit the criteria may apply – just complete the short application form and send it to apply@beltane.org by 10pm on Sunday 7 August. All applications will be kept fully confidential by the Blues and two Board members involved.

BFS members are encouraged to nominate anyone they feel should be encouraged or ‘nudged’ to apply. Nominations for a nudge to apply must be submitted by email to blues@beltane.org by 10pm on Monday 25th July. There is no form to complete and no need to tell us why you are nominating – simply email the name of the member(s) you are nominating and the role(s) you are nominating them to be encouraged to apply for. Only Blues will see and act on nominations. Again, detail on this is set out in the court selection process document – but please note: those interested in applying for court roles do not need to be contacted in this way in order to apply – applications are welcome and will be considered equally from all.

  • Nominations deadline: 10pm on Monday 25th July 2016
  • Applications deadline: 10pm on Sunday 7th August 2016
  • Interviews: Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th August 2016


Performance Groups

Samhuinn 2016 GO Application Form
Samhuinn 2016 Group Organiser Guidance

Calling drummers, dancers, acrobats, fire spinners, musicians, elemental spirits, torchbearers, hunters, wild beasts, roaming faeries and mythical creatures! It’s time for you to make your creative vision a reality with a group of volunteers who will work together to make this Samhuinn an unforgettable celebration.

As the GO of a performance group, your role will involve organising volunteers, developing your story and key moments with the rest of the Society, making props and costumes, choreography, music or rhythms, and giving a body and voice to our event. In return, we can offer you an amazing experience, learning new skills, meeting new people, and making a difference to others by helping them on their journey to welcome the onset of Winter.

Please send your application form to festival@beltane.org by 10pm on Friday 29th July 2016.


Production Groups

No application form is required for production groups. Please email festival@beltane.org before 10pm on Friday 29th July 2016 with the name(s) and contact details of proposed organisers and a note about relevant experience and plans for the group.

Unlike performance groups, which are open to interpretation and reinterpretation or which may or may not appear every year, our production groups have very specific missions and we absolutely need all of you! We’ve explained a bit about each production group below to help you formulate your application.


Our Bucketeers are a vital part of the festival as it’s not a ticketed event so we rely on donations from our witnesses rather than an income from ticket sales. Moving through the usually large and often tightly-packed crowd on the night, the outgoing, friendly Bucketeers share information about the BFS and the festival, and actively engage with the audience to encourage and collect those much-needed donations.

Although Bucketeers don’t usually have as demanding a preparation schedule as many other groups, it is essential that the GOs are confident to recruit and fully train a team of up to 20 volunteers.


The role of the Steward GOs is to actively recruit and comprehensively train a team of at least 30 volunteer Event Stewards. BFS Stewards are courtesy stewards, helping inform and guide the audience, protecting the performers and witnesses, holding space and being a visible source of assistance. Their aim is to help everyone have the best experience of our festival. Our Stewards are friendly, approachable, informative, assertive and, most importantly, a cohesive team.

Please bear in mind, this is not a security role. Professional SIA-licensed stewards and police will be on hand.


Coordinating the Tech team at one of our fire festivals is no mean feat! The task itself is rewarding and should be undertaken by a team of at least two.

The Tech Coordinators work as part of our production and safety groups within the festivals. They liaise with GOs and collate tech requests, then they make a plan to do as many of the fun fiery things as possible in a safe and controlled manner. It is recommended that the Tech Coordinators have been involved in Tech with BFS previously or have other relevant experience to demonstrate suitability.

Your coordination team needs to include the following strengths:

  • Good planning and logistics skills (essential for moving things around)
  • Friendly communication skills (because we are all volunteers in it for the fun, the thrill of the flame and the beat of the earth)
  • Great interpersonal skills to recruit your team of people at the Open Meeting and to work with our dedicated and hard working tech team (who will support you!)
  • Knowledge and experience of the some technical elements of our productions


Photopoint is a team of volunteer photographers, often with a range a skill and experience levels, who photograph group rehearsals, walkthroughs, busks and the festival. The photos are primarily for use on social media to promote the Society and event during the run-up, and also for press, media and our digital archive. Operating an efficient workflow and fast turnaround, they work closely with Videopoint, Group Organisers, the Online Communications Coordinator and anyone else involved with media, communications and promotion.

Photopoint coordinators should be experienced photographers who are able and prepared to coach volunteers where necessary. Coordinators and members must have access to the necessary equipment to photograph a fast-paced, crowded event at night.


Videopoint skilfully and creatively shoot and edit footage of the festival, but in particular of various events during the preceding weeks. The short finished videos they submit creatively capture BFS activities primarily for use on social media to promote the Society and event during the run-up, and also for press, media and our digital archive. Operating an efficient workflow and fast turnaround, they work closely with Photopoint, Group Organisers, the Online Communications Coordinator and anyone else involved with media, communications and promotion.

Videopoint must have the appropriate equipment to capture both high quality moving images and sound at a loud, fast-paced event at night, and must also have the appropriate level of experience to use it!

Videopoint is more of a project than a group and would suit 1-3 people. Depending on the experience and inclination of applicants, this could be included under the Photopoint umbrella or operated separately.


Project Proposals

If you are an experienced BFS festival participant and have an idea that you would like to make a reality as part of the festival but that doesn’t fit with a group structure or require recruitment of additional volunteers, please submit this as a proposal, rather than a GO application, to festival@beltane.org by 10pm on Friday 29th July 2016. A small number of proposals will be granted at the discretion of the Board and you may be invited for a short interview to discuss your idea.

Please note that proposals are ideal for creative projects fully conceived and completed by individuals or small numbers of volunteers, not a mechanism by which to run a closed group, recruit a group in advance or avoid recruiting from the wider community at the Open Meeting.

Examples of proposals include, but are not limited to: Puppets; Non-group performance roles, like Call Horn; Structures, props and scenery, like stage decoration.

Please include the following information in your email:

  • Names and contact details (email address, phone number) of ALL people involved.
  • Experience within BFS of ALL people involved.
  • A description of your project, including how you see it fitting into the festival.
  • A list of the materials and costs involved, including any contribution made by volunteers and any budgetary requests.
  • Anything else you would like to add.

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Martin McCarthy

Invitation to submit poster and flyer artwork for Samhuinn 2016

Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

With preparations for the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 beginning (already!), it’s time to invite you to submit your beautiful artwork for consideration for the Samhuinn 2016 promotional material. The chosen submission will be on posters and flyers all over Edinburgh and will also be used in our online promotion and press advertising in the run-up to the festival. Anyone is welcome to enter, so if you have arty friends please feel free to pass this on to them!

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott


Samhuinn is a time of the changing of the seasons, of the battle between summer and winter and of the Celtic new year – a time when the veil draws thin and the spirits draw closer to us.

Our Samhuinn festival has its roots in medieval street theatre, the traditions of all Hallow’s Eve. The Summer and Winter courts battle for control of the seasons, overseen by the Cailleach, whose grief and sorrow at the death of Summer brings forth the darkness and storms of Winter. It is a time for celebration, Summer’s last gasp of opulent decadence, but also a time of icy bleakness – the finality of Winter’s arrival and the hard months ahead.

Our event is a community celebration of this changing of the seasons – and our poster should appeal to the wider community in Edinburgh and beyond. It should reflect the story and characters highlighted above to appeal to draw in those who know the Samhuinn story, but also attract those who are newcomers to our festivals.

Before you commence work on a design or consider submitting your creations, please thoroughly read ALL technical requirements and information below explaining the terms of the competition. By submitting your work, you are agreeing to these terms. You MUST be 18 years old or above to enter.


– You MUST submit one design for the poster (A2 size) AND both a front and back side for the flyer (A6 size), at the same time and using the same artwork and colour scheme to keep a uniform look.

– The size (with required bleed edge) for A6 flyers is 111mm x 154mm

– The size (with required bleed edge) for A2 posters is 426mm x 600mm

– Remember to leave any text or important visual elements at least 7mm from the edges for printing.

– You should save your full-resolution files at 300dpi.

– Please ensure that all files are in CMYK colour format, NOT RGB!

– Make sure that you save a copy of your work WITH LAYERS, preferably in .psd format, for easier editing. You do not need to send this to us as your submission, but if your design is chosen we will need it.

– Alternatively, if creating a completely digitally illustrated image, saving the file as a vector graphic is helpful as it will scale better and be easier to work with if changes are needed before sending to print.

– Please download THIS ZIP FILE for all the text and other elements that must be included in designs. Minor changes to text may be required before going to print (for example, venue and times), but it is absolutely essential that all text etc is in place when submitting your design.

– Everything in your submission (apart from the downloadable elements provided) absolutely must be your own work or created with elements that you have permission to use. If you use any stock imagery, free or purchased, you must be able to provide evidence of legitimate sources if asked. Please check the relevant licensing for any fonts that you use and be able to provide this information if asked. Although BFS is a charity, it is also a registered company, so please only use fonts that are licensed for commercial use to be on the safe side!

– We will accept submissions from pairs of artists/designers. For example, if you’re an amazing illustrator and you have a friend who is great at layouts, feel free to work together and submit under both your names.

– Don’t forget to sign your artwork! We appreciate that you’re offering your creations on a voluntary basis, so we’d like you to have your signature(s) on there somewhere.


– Your submission should include THREE separate files: A2 poster, A6 flyer front and A6 flyer back.

– When sending your designs for consideration, please make them 1000px on the longest side and send in jpeg format. You do not need to send larger versions or files with layers at this stage. In fact, absolutely DO NOT submit larger versions or files with layers at this stage. Really. Thanks.

– You can submit more than one entry if you like, but please submit each only once! There is no need to send a draft or sketch first, and there’s no advantage to submitting early. If it takes you right up until the deadline to complete your work, then please take that time. All submissions will be posted for voting at the same time in August.

– Because of time constraints and the need for printing and promotional activity to begin as early as possible in the run-up to the festival, we will only accept FINISHED DESIGNS. This means that all the text and additional elements absolutely must be included. Please do not send image-only submissions.

– EMAIL your submission to festival[at]beltane[dot]org


– Please contact our Festival Secretaries at festival[at]beltane[dot]org with any questions you may have about the poster competition.


– As the creator of your artwork, YOU own it and by submitting it for the competition are granting BFS license to keep it in digital and physical archives, display it for public voting and use it in promotional activities, online and offline, globally and in perpetuity.

– You are welcome to sell prints and products featuring your artwork, WITHOUT any of the provided text, BFS branding or elements included in the downloadable design pack, should you wish to do so.


– Once all submissions have been received, the BFS Board of Trustees will create a shortlist of entries which are appropriate to promote the event. Entrants will be informed by email as to whether or not their work has been shortlisted.

– The winning design set will then be chosen by public online vote in August 2016, with voting by poll on our website, Beltane.org, where the shortlisted submissions will be visible on the same page as each other and the poll itself. Just as anyone from anywhere in the world can enter, anyone from anywhere in the world can vote.

Here are some of our recent Samhuinn posters to help kick your muse into gear!

Samhuinn 2015 Poster

Samhuinn 2014 Poster

Samhuinn 2013 Poster by Phil Obermarck

Samhuinn 2012 Poster

Samhuinn 2011 Poster

The Beltane Fire Society is its members

Beltane Bonfire by Neil Barton

The Beltane Fire Society is its members. Our community is large, it is diverse, it is spread across Britain, the EU and the rest of the world – the ties still strong, no matter the distance. We welcome everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, political stance or nationality, and our society is the stronger for it; the performances we create anew every year are more original, crazy and beautiful, because of it. Today, we want to say to our multinational, multicultural community that we see you, we hear you, we welcome you and we will continue to make our society as inclusive and open as we can. Thank you for being a part of it.

With love,
Your Board of Trustees, and Blues

Photo by Neil Barton