The Narrative of Beltane – in Photos

Although Beltane is known as a joyful celebration with fire, a narrative does guide events. Amongst a cavalcade of characters, and set to the beating of the drums, the May Queen leads Her court around Calton Hill to begin the journey toward summer; her counterpart the Green Man is stripped of his winter guise and reborn; and together they light the traditional Beltane bonfire in celebration of the life and warmth ahead in the summer months.

While these core elements and traditions are respected and retained, each year the volunteer community that brings Beltane together introduces new characters into the mix. Away from the main procession, other storylines are played out as different characters and groups emerge, interacting with each other and audience members – brought to life with giant puppets, stunning costumes and – of course – fire.

Rather than spoken theatre or music performed entirely on stages, Beltane takes a more investigative theatre approach, with few barriers between audience and performer, and performances taking place all around the hill and among the crowd.

In this photo essay we wanted to take you through the guiding narrative of the night, the core elements that always form part of our festival. Click on the photo of the call horn sounding to be guided on a journey of the night. For information on the processional route and timings for #Beltane2017, see this post. 


Beltane Fire Festival returns to Calton Hill on April 30. Tickets are selling fast, book in advance to avoid disappointment.

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