With Beltane Fire Festival just around the corner, we’ve put together this handy breakdown of all the practical information you’ll need to come and celebrate summer with us atop Calton Hill.
What is it?
Beltane Fire Festival is a modern interpretation of the ancient Celtic festival that celebrates the return of summer. Hundreds of performers act out a story based on folklore and on the collective imagination of decades of volunteers involving fire, drumming, and acrobatics.
The story depicts the Green Man shedding his old wintry guise so that he can let go of his burdensome past and rejoin the May Queen as her consort. After he dies at her hand and is then reborn, they can rule of the Summer together, which is reborn when they light the bonfire.
Where is it?
The festival takes place at the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh. There are performance groups all over the Hill throughout the night, but the procession starts at the National Monument (known by our community as “the Acropolis”) and make its way round the groups during the festival to finish at the bonfire.
When is it?
It’s on 30th April every year, which this year is next Monday.
What time does everything kick off?
The gates will be open from 8PM and the festival officially starts at sundown, when we light the first fire.
Where can I buy tickets?
Tickets are no longer available online, but you can still buy them from our official vendor Tickets Scotland on Rose Street for the rest of today. You will also be able to buy at the gate, although please note that the gate is cash only. If you buy at Calton Hill, we recommend getting there early to avoid queues.
Is it family friendly?
Children of all ages are welcome, although to help you decide whether Beltane Fire Festival is suitable for your wee ones, parents should be advised that there will be some partial nudity as part of the performance.
We also have a Family Beltane event on Sunday 6th May in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the weekend after Beltane, for families who want to enjoy the festival but without the long evening involved. There will be face painting, storytelling, wish seed planting, music playing, and also the chance to meet a goddess throughout in afternoon. Visit our Facebook event for more details.
Is it accessible?
Calton Hill involves a sloping ascent and the festival takes place in darkness with some areas becoming very crowded, so you may want to consider attending with a friend and arriving early to ensure your comfort.
There will be loud noises, mostly in the form of drumming, and some flashing lights in the form of pyrotechnics and flash photography.
Some costumed performers will be mingling, in character, with our witnesses throughout the evening. There will be some partial nudity.
The festival is stewarded and complies with all relevant health and safety requirements.
BFS cannot advise on parking or accommodation in, or travel to or within, Edinburgh.
For accessibility-related questions, please email access[at]beltane[dot]org in advance.
Can I take photographs?
Yes, we are very happy for spectators to take their own pictures. We just ask that you not obstruct our performers or the procession and that you follow instructions from our stewards.