Whilst we busy ourselves making the final preparations for Samhuinn Fire Festival, you probably have some questions of your own about how to ready yourself for the big event.
We’ve put together this handy breakdown of all the essential information you’ll need to come and celebrate Winter’s ascendance atop Calton Hill.
Be sure to browse through before the festival, and if you still have a question you can chat to us in the Facebook event here or email festival[at]beltane[dot]org.
- Is there still a parade along the Royal Mile?
- Where can I buy tickets?
- What time should I arrive?
- Where is the entrance?
- Can I leave and come back into the festival?
- Are there cash machines at the festival?
- Can I bring food and drink?
- Are there food vendors?
- Can I take pictures?
- Where is everything happening on the Hill?
- Is it family-friendly?
- Is it accessible?
Is there still a parade along the Royal Mile?
Not this year. Our festival begins and ends on Calton Hill, so please don’t head to the Royal Mile or you’ll miss all the action.
WHERE CAN I BUY TICKETS?
Tickets cost £8 + booking fee and can bought online from Citizen Tickets.
Tickets go up to £10 at the festival and can be bought from our box office either on Carriage Drive or Waterloo Steps from 7PM.
Tickets are selling more quickly than usual, and we sold out before the festival last year. We recommend buying yours early to avoid disappointment. Please note, if we sell out before the night there will NOT be tickets available on the gate.
WHAT TIME SHOULD I ARRIVE?
Gates open at 7PM and we anticipate heavy queues to get into the festival. There will be bag searches, so to speed things up please don’t bring glass onto the festival site. Our lovely security staff and box office team will be working hard to get everyone in as quickly as possible, but it does take time to check tickets for thousands of people. We recommend that you arrive early to give yourself enough time to find a good spot for the start.
Last entry is at 10pm. Please make sure you are in the festival site before then.
WHERE IS THE ENTRANCE?
We actually have two! Both of our entrances are at the bottom of Calton Hill on Regent Road. If you already have a ticket, you can enter by Waterloo Place or use the entrance by Carriage Drive (the slope by the roundabout across the road from St Andrews House).
Those looking to buy tickets on the gate should use the box office on Carriage Drive.
The accessible entrance is by Carriage Drive.
All other entrances to the Hill will be closed for the evening of the festival.
CAN I LEAVE AND COME BACK INTO THE FESTIVAL?
There is no re-entry into the festival. Please ensure that you have everything you need with you before you enter the site.
ARE THERE CASH MACHINES IN THE FESTIVAL?
There are no cash machines, however many of our food vendors do accept card payments.
CAN I BRING FOOD OR DRINK?
Yes, all food and drink is allowed, including alcohol. Please don’t bring anything with glass. Nobody will be allowed into the festival with glass containers, so stick to plastic and metal only. There will also be some food stalls available to buy refreshments on the Hill.
Although bringing your own alcohol is permitted, we ask that you drink responsibly and respect our performers and the witnesses around you.
ARE THERE FOOD VENDORS?
There are a small selection of stalls where you can buy food and drink in the festival. Please note that these vendors will not sell alcohol.
CAN I TAKE PICTURES?
Please do not use flash photography during the performance – flash is distracting and can potentially dazzle our performers who will be performing risky stunts. Our security and stewards will be on the look out for use of flash.
Non-flash photos are absolutely fine. We ask that you not obstruct our performers while getting your perfect shot, and that you listen to our stewards if they instruct you to move.
WHERE IS EVERYTHING HAPPENING ON THE HILL?
This year’s festival is super immersive, with three separate processions making their way around the Hill throughout the night.
We have written this blog post to help you orientate yourself at the beginning of the festival, but the basic gist is that the Cailleach will begin at Earth Point, the Winter King at The Hearth, and the Summer King at Kings Point (marked “B G” on the map above).
All three processions will meet later in the evening at the main stage (behind the Acropolis), before dispersing to welcome Winter’s triumph at The Bonfire and The Hearth.
IS IT FAMILY-FRIENDLY?
Families with children are welcome at parents’ discretion. Please see our Accessibility section below for a fuller description of the performance to help you decide whether Samhuinn will be suitable for your wee ones.
IS IT ACCESSIBLE?
There is an accessible steps-free entrance on Carriage Drive, leading off the roundabout opposite the Scottish Parliament Building on Regent Road.
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. Care should be taken moving around the Hill, as the ground away from the paths is uneven and can get a bit slippery if it rains.
Witnesses with mobility considerations often prefer to head straight to the stage area at the beginning to find a great place to watch from. Our friendly stewards will be on hand to help you get situated and give you any information you might need. Look out for the painted people in orange hi-vis jackets.
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 but please be aware that it takes place in the dark with a mobile audience of thousands.
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.
Featured image by Sean Bluestone for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.