Matthew’s first BFS festival experience was in 1998 at a fire performer. Since then he has done almost everything, mostly drumming and being Blue, and has served on the Board of Trustees including time as Chair. In our third What Makes Beltane Special? article, he talks about the incredible dedication of BFS volunteers and the traditions we have created together over the years.
Beltane is a riotous celebration of the arrival of summer. My favourite thing about the event is the existence of traditions going back over twenty five years, like the Neid Fire (the fire, started using traditional methods, that all other flames on the Hill are lit from), the bonfire, and the death and rebirth of the Green Man. My best Beltane memory is playing the first few beats of the drum rhythms on the acropolis and helping fire up the start of the festival.
Beltane is different from other events I’ve been involved in because of the sheer enthusiasm to the cause, no matter how hard the slog. People give far more of their time, money and enthusiasm than any single event deserves, and for Beltane to have kept going, despite all the hardships, is nothing short of a miracle.
I’ve been doing this for more than eighteen years now – I could have had a child grow up in that time! And just as Beltane celebrates the cycles of the seasons, so I’ve seen the cycles of the festival – fat years and lean, small community-led versus huge audience-led affairs – and in those cycles, different people taking on the same roles and responsibilities to keep the Beltane traditions alive. Sometimes it feels like there’s only ever been one Beltane Fire Festival and it just happens to have been weirdly time-dilated across several decades, and that everyone who has ever been involved is always at all of them.
Want to come to Beltane Fire Festival 2016 on 30th April? Book your ticket HERE.
Photo of Matthew (centre) by Matt Dale