Gathering around the BOnFire – what is this new virtual Beltane?

Yesterday we announced a fun new virtual thing that we’re trying out. On the night of Beltane at the end of this month, we’re inviting our international community to sit with us around a virtual BOnFire, the Beltane Online Fire Festival, hosted right here on our website

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since we announced the cancellation of this year’s Beltane Fire Festival. Even though it was the right thing to do, we were heartbroken to see the coronavirus pandemic halt our ritual celebration and the preparations for it. 

This is only the second time in our 32 history that our festival hasn’t been able to take place on Calton Hill, and of course people were marking Beltane for thousands of years before us. Our world feels like it is at a standstill, but the wheel keeps on turning. Summer will arrive soon. The sun is shining higher in the sky and the flowers are beginning to open. Our festival as we know it may not be able to go ahead, but the Celtic holiday and the reasons to mark it endure. 

We’ve put our heads together to come up with a way to keep connecting us all even while we’re practicing self isolation. On Thursday 30 April between 7PM and 10.30PM, we will publish a mass amount of content created for you by our volunteers to evoke different parts of the Beltane story, and we’d love you to join us to experience it live and in the moment online. 

This isn’t a live stream – not on its own anyway. We know that our volunteers have a wide variety of talents and interests, and thought this would be a great way to explore them all. We’ll be sharing video, music, visual art, poetry, photography, and a little bit of character work throughout the evening, which will all be collected together here in its multimedia glory on our website. 

The night will be broken up into a series of chapters, or time slots, during which we will share creations from our volunteers that resonate with a particular point in Beltane Fire Festival’s narrative. We have listed the night’s schedule at the bottom of this page.

You’ll be able to join us here on our website, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not all of the content that we create can be shared on every platform, so we recommend catching what you can on your social media of choice and then diving into everything here on our website, where the whole festival will be collected and available to browse afterwards.

It’s completely free to access our online festival. All you need is an internet connection and access to social media or this website. What we are asking though, if you are able, is for a small donation in lieu of a ticket. 

We, like so many, have been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic. While we are fortunate to have some reserves that will help us survive, any donations big and small will go a long way to helping us bring our festivals back after this crisis. We are a not-for-profit charity that receives no public money, and almost all the funds that keep our community going come from ticket sales. We are also pledging to send 10% of the donations received, up to a total £1,000, to environmental charities. You can donate here on Citizen Ticket by purchasing a “pay what you can” ticket.

This is a completely new arena for us – our festivals have often delved into the mortal and the spiritual realms, but never the virtual – but we hope that you’ll come with us on this new digital adventure. In the world that we live in, it’s never been more important to celebrate the stories and rituals that bring us together.


19:00 – 19:15 Welcome to Beltane

19:15 – 19:30 The Horn Sounds and The Journey Through the Veil

19:30 – 19:45 May Queen & Green Man’s Journey

19:45 – 20:00 Air

20:00 – 20:15 Earth 

20:15 – 20:30 Chaos Awakens – The Red Family

20:30 – 20:45 Water

20:45 – 21:00 Fire 

21:00 – 21:15 The May Queen Chooses Her Consort

21:15 – 21:30 The Bonfire

21:30 – 21:45 The Bower

21:45 – 22:00 The Toast

Featured image by Gladys Yelland for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.

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