With Samhuinn night just around the corner, it’s time we sat down with you and explained how you can join us round the virtual Hearth Fire. You’ll find all the practical details you need on this page about where to find the festival online, how you can join in, and how to make a donation.
What is Hearth Fire?
For over two decades, we have held a contemporary version of the Celtic New Year called Samhuinn Fire Festival.
On the night of Samhuinn, the veil between our world and the next grows thin and mysterious otherworldly creatures gain passage to the mortal realm to walk amongst us.
At Samhuinn Fire Festival, those creatures come to witness the struggle between Winter and Summer, embodied by the Winter King, the Summer King and their followers, all watched over by the winter goddess the Cailleach.
We’ve held our festival in lots of places around Edinburgh over the years, from the Royal Mile to the Grassmarket and up the top of Calton Hill. But in 2020, we’re not able to go to any of those locations, so we’re taking our festival – and all the spirits that appear with it – online.
Over the course of the evening, you’ll witness the story of the Winter King and the Summer King brought to life by our usual mix of acrobatics, character performance, music, costume, and fire in the virtual realm.
How do I watch Hearth Fire?
You can watch the festival streamed live on our Facebook page and YouTube. If the video doesn’t show up on our profile straight away at 7PM, just keep refreshing the page. The stream will show up at the top of our Facebook and YouTube profiles once it is live.
If you’re watching on Instagram, we will be broadcasting the festival in three separate segments on our IGTV.
When we go live on Facebook, we will post the link to the stream here in our Facebook event. Join the Facebook event for updates, or you can also make sure that you have liked and followed the official Beltane Fire Society Facebook page to get a notification that takes you straight to the live stream.
Is Hearth Fire ticketed?
Yes and no. We’re asking everyone who watches to make a small donation to the festival, which you can do by purchasing a pay-what-you-can ticket from Citizen Ticket.
Ordinarily we would charge for entry into our in-person festivals, and we are fundraising now to make up for that lost income this year. Whenever we are able, we want to come back with all fires blazing and give you the amazing reunion party you all deserve. The money that we raise from this digital festival will help us do that, whenever it is safe to hold gatherings again.
There is a suggested donation of £5 (+ booking fee), but you can amend that to whatever price you feel is affordable for you.
But, you will not need a ticket to access the festival. Hearth Fire is free to watch on our Facebook page, YouTube, and IGTV so if you do not have the means to make a donation you are still more than welcome to join us.
Beware of money scams
Because the festival is free to watch, anyone who is offering to sell you a ticket they have already bought is likely a scam.
Digital festivals have been victims to unprecedented amounts of phishing scams this year, so we’re asking you to please be vigilant about any links you click on – especially on Facebook.
Any links claiming to be our Hearth Fire stream, but that have not been shared by the official Beltane Fire Society Facebook page, are likely scams. Please do not follow these, or give away your credit details.
How are you celebrating Samhuinn?
One key moment at our Samhuinn Fire Festival is the lighting of the sacred Neid fire – once believed to be a purifying fire that was used to relight every single hearth at the start of old Samhuinn celebrations.
We’d like you to join us in lighting our own Neid fire. At 7:05PM just after the beginning of our festival, let’s all light a candle – or a fire pit, or even a zippo, whatever you have handy! If we can’t stand at the bonfire together on Calton Hill, let’s make sure we’re igniting fires together all over the world.
Many other traditions from the original Samhuinn celebrations have survived today, including guising – which was originally designed to disguise and protect humans from preying spirits – and jack o’lanterns – nowadays made out of pumpkins, but the old Scottish way was neep carving.
Are you dressing up? Have you carved a neep? Have you resurrected any other Samhuinn celebrations? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #HearthFire2020. We’d love to see how you’re all joining in from home.
See you at Samhuinn
We hope that answers all your questions, but if you have any more we’re all ears. Just post your query in the Facebook event and we’ll get back to you. We look forward to welcoming you all to the virtual Hearth Fire.
Featured image by Gordon Veitch for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.