This information is from Beltane Fire Festival 2015. It will be updated in time for next Beltane but is being left in place until then for anyone who wants to read about the festival.
Andy Meechan, Tom Gibson, Bob May and Jo Harrison
Read about the Blues on their own page.
Raymond Considine, Tom Caine and James Armandary
As the winter draws to a close, the furry, sleepy creatures that have survived in the safety of hibernation start to emerge once more. The heartbeat raises, the pulse quickens, the veil of sleep is slowly drawn back as the drums, the noise, the energy of spring coursing through the world brings rise to the BEASTIES.
A cacophony of chaotic critters, the BEASTIES are synonymous with the coming spring, the noise a mix of contemporary, classic, and tribal drumming, using different drums and tuned percussion. You’ll be treated to a lot of fun, some exercise, and drumming! More drumming!
No previous drum experience necessary, but willingness to learn, passion for life and new adventures is a must; drummers past, present, and future, are all welcome. Talk to anyone who has been a BEASTIE before, and they will reassure you that you will never be the same again…
Robert Lee and Dulcea Wind
We are Bonfire Point. We entertain the public through dramatic storytelling. We are a costumed performance group and we build the bonfire on the Hill. We maintain the fire as the life force of the community; protectors of the fire. We have a strong focus on the bonfire and its space.
Our movements on the hill will be very limited and so we expect to be very suited to many people. Beginners are welcome. Must be willing to stand before a crowd of thousands and proclaim dramatically to them.
We rehearse on Sundays and Thursdays.
Bower with Spark
Judy Fordham and Faracy Moon Grouse
The Bower is Home, the Sacred Hearth on the Hill. Whilst the Procession wends its way around the Hill, the Bower slowly comes to life and coalesces out of the Light/Sacred Fire that gathers around the Hill. The Bower is the resting place after the ritual procession and performances for All where rest, respite, seduction, light hearted flirtations and trysting may take place. Spark is an interactive vocal performance which raises spiritual vibration through sound, for All at the Bower… All are encouraged to listen to the people around them and make the most beautiful sound they can make. There is no right or wrong noise, just add your sound and your energy to the whole. The Bower is a space of glittery, twinkly lights of ethereal beauty, magical otherworldliness and entrancing sounds…
If you fancy a ritual focussed group with some performance but not lots, who understands that there is Life beyond Beltane ;> ; if you have limited time there are roles that may suit you too, if you can attend on the Night; if you fancy building lanterns of differing shapes and sizes ( no prior experience/skills needed, we can teach you); if you don’t/can’t do a weekend away due to Other Things (Bower will not have a weekend away); if you have always wanted to be part of vocal performance but have thought “ I can’t do that, I can’t sing”, then this is the group for you!
Meetings will be on a Thursday evening and during the day on a Saturday, based in and around Edinburgh, with some Sundays too nearer to Beltane.
Beltane Family Parade brings together small folk and their grown ups for creative fun on the theme of Beltane fire festival and the power and essence of the elements and bounty of nature. The familiar characters of the festival will be brought to life with puppetry, drama, music and storytelling. Crafts and costume will be created by children and their families and some very talented and friendly artists will be on standby to provide materials and guidance. The weekend workshops will be held on 11th April and 18th April, and all participants will be invited to take part in an open-air family parade on Calton Hill on 30th April from 4.30pm – 6.30pm in keeping with tradition. Bring the crafts, puppets, costumes and artworks you have made to create a colourful installation and gallery for all to admire!
Daniel Connell and Emily Martinelli
We make a lot of fire.
Sage Dean and Annie Minnaar
Ninja clowns drunk on faery magic.
Tho we may carry a very, very large bannana, our warrior spirit is aligned with sacred healing, reverence for The Mother, and high octave mischief for the crowd. No point wanders where it will, like a randy Om, intoxicated by the scent of mayflowers. We are an audience interactive group and generally we try to cause as much benign chaos as possible. This year we will work with fire.
We meet Sundays, mostly, but also probably Wednesdays too. And some Saturday night sleepovers. We are a fairly flexible group, but we will try to swap all your time for utter blisscake sessions.
Mark Taylor and James Illing
Photopoint, the clue is in the name. We’re here to make you look good. We are a costumed photography group which take the photos for the Society’s Facebook page and also the BFS official website.
Practices will take place twice a week and the locations will vary. Our practices will include photo shoots in and around Edinburgh, Group shoots where we meet and photograph other groups involved in the festival, and talks where we cover the training required to take photos in the challenging conditions on the Hill during the festival.
Previous photography experience is favoured but not essential. You will require a DLSR or equivalent camera and ideally an off camera flash.
Jason Kalapothakis and Eva Murzyn
Drawing from the latent potential of our muscles and beaters, we create sound and rhythm, transforming the Beltane Fire Festival into a living and forceful ritual performance.
The Processional drummers will accompany the procession of the Court, Whites, Torchbearers and Stewards during their journey through the various points on the hill, providing a guiding rhythm and occasionally, a score to the performances. The drums will be an engine driving the procession forward, the heartbeat of the shape of things to come. Just as the light of the fire allows the performance to be seen, our rhythms are the ‘voice’ of the festival, expanding the ritual space beyond what fire touches, immersing the audience into the magic of Beltane.
Practices will take place twice on Thursdays (7pm) and Sundays (3pm) at the Bongo Club (66 Cowgate). Our practices will include learning a repertoire of both celebratory and ritual, easy and virtuosic drum rhythms. A number of socialising and group bonding events, such as our three-day-long camping trip (27th-29th of March) will also take place. In addition to Beltane itself, we will be performing at fundraising events for BFS. Due to the learning-based nature of the group, you must be able to attend most, if not all, practice sessions.
Previous drumming or musical experience is favoured but is not necessary, so don’t let lack of musical experience deter you. The only true requirement is a willingness to drum and a sense of excitement for Beltane. So come at our open practices and give those skins and rims a good bashing!
Random Points of Kindness
Kat Kane and Cat Somerville
Random Points of Kindness exist to interact with the audience in the background, quiet spaces and dark corners, at the back of a crowd and before the drums kick off. Our aim is to extend the love of our community to the audience through meaningful interaction, giving them a personal touch that they can take away with them in their hearts, minds and hands, above and beyond the witnessing of a performance. We will play with them through stories, sounds, songs, games and moveable performance and then pass on tokens of kindness, little trinkets made with love. In that moment, sharing with them a feeling of connectedness, community and love. We want to make them feel a part of the Beltane family.
We will be creatures of summer from an enchanted garden, gentle and kind. We will have a base on the hill from which to roam. Our sessions will be a mixture of performance, character work and practical sessions making gifts. We’ll meet Thursdays (7pm) and Sundays (tbc). Whilst we are looking for commitment from our group, we have scope to include people who may have prior commitments, holidays etc (to be discussed on an individual basis).
Dave Rowell and Rob Sproul-Cran
The Reds are beings of chaos, pure and true, they are driven by impulse and act on their desires without fear or consideration of the consequences. Like a surging tide of fiery entropy crashing over the world, they leave none of their surroundings untouched…discord and disorder follow in their wake.
On Beltane night the Reds will be unleashed, awoken by the thunderous sound of the Procession, and immediately they feel its presence. It is order, their polar opposite, and like a moth to a flame, they are drawn immediately to it. Order is boring, chaos is exciting, and the Reds are going to do everything in their power to disrupt the procession’s journey!
We are an intensive group, both physically and mentally, incorporating acrobatics and acrobalance with a lot of character and vocal work. You don’t need to be super-fit to try out for the group, but we work hard and play hard, so you must be willing to work to get there over next 2 months. More than anything we’re looking for energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone!
Nick Toth and Anthony McKale
The Stewards are the friendly human face of the Beltane Fire Festival. We work with the production crew, emergency services, and the performing groups to make sure everyone has a safe and joyful Beltane. We are not a performing group, but we will interact heavily with the audience, telling them about the significance of the celebrations and about some of the things they will see, so that they can make the most of their experience.
Our regular training meetings will take place on Calton Hill from 2-5pm every Sunday starting Sunday 1st March. There will be no regular meeting on Sunday 29th March, and Sunday meetings in April will vary times and locations as we begin to practice more closely with other groups in the immediate lead up to the festival.
If you are keen to join us, but can’t make all the meetings, talk to us anyway. We are a flexible group, run by and for people with real-world responsibilities.
Adam Exell and Helen Bradburn
Pots of Fire! Burning scuptures! Epic Stages! Tubs of Flapjacks!
Tech are the stage crew behind the magic of Beltane. We are the fire proof suited, soot stained, frazzled looking folks who put it all together on the night. We build the stages, make the sculptures, soak the rope, prep the fuel, put out the fires and in the morning, pack it all away again.
And all this powered by nothing more than tea and biscuits.
Jerome Wiwezar and Andrew Bell
The Aerie represents the place that birds have always held within our society as messengers of the Gods. As such, they’re considered as being their eyes and ears, and their actions often carry an important weight. Colourful, boisterous, sometimes mysterious and alien in their behaviour, their presence on the hill will be an powerful omen for the audience, a reminder of the Green Man’s own ordeals.
This is mainly a performance group, and each of its members would be representing a particular species of bird, with its own colours and personality. Our performance itself will be a mix between dancing and the use of various noisemakers. We welcome both skilled performers and beginners alike, but be warned that it might be a tiring experience; birds like to move around a lot !
Michal Miklewicz and Izabela Wawreniuk
Omnia mea mecum porto. The road is their home. Their daily routine is continuous improvisation. They are resourceful and adept. Culturally influenced by everyone they meet, leaving an impression wherever they pass. Despite their reputation they keep going forward. Music and wine make their feet a bit lighter. They walk until the night will bring a bonfire smoking out the cold and ghost. During these tranquil gatherings they summon the Sound of guitar and accordion . Drums and dancers. Creatures which make the ancient stories alive. Everlasting struggle of Fire and Ice impersonated by our carneys and puppets. Vagabonds which wish to show a different view of welcoming the Summer.
Ellie Stewart and Tiggs Cunningham
Lining the edges of our sacred spaces, casting light on our performances and rituals, we are the barrier between the mundane and the magical, the real and the unreal. As the energy from the ritual and performance passes through the gaps in our line to the witnesses it is diffused and subtly altered as light passing through a water droplet is changed and altered. Thus this year we will be demonstrating that with a cacophony of colour in the form of different coloured pennants, facepaints and sparkles. Instead of dark and forbidding, think joy, laughter, celebration and the welcoming the summer.
Louise Murray and Tamara Piddock
We are the Whites. The days are starting to get longer as the darkness fades. It’s time for the May Queen to walk the land again and visit the one beyond to gather the energies necessary to secure the coming of summer. As she takes the first steps of her journey, her Whites are there, always guarding her from the surrounding darkness and the unknown beyond the fire arch. She is all powerful, but still they guard her, being her support when needed, she knows they are an essential part in the coming process.
They act as one and move as one, deflecting strange beings such as the chaotic Reds who are always near, until the moment when the Green Man and the May Queen join and they must help remove the energies of the Green Man’s death to make way for his rebirth. They will then face a tough decision; now the May Queen and Green Man have joined and started the ripple effect for Summer to start, do the Whites play their roles and join with the curious Reds and share their energies, helping the next ripple keep going and spread to all those who watch?