Shout-out for Group Organisers for Beltane 2017

The Aerie by Asier GoikoetxeaDear community, ye creatives, visionaries, revellers and mischief makers! It’s getting close to that time again when we start to collaboratively form the basis of our Beltane Fire Festival. This year is particularly special, as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of our Beltane: a chance to reflect upon and celebrate this unique and incredible festival! To begin this process, we would like to invite submission of Group Organiser applications.

We are looking once more for a band of intrepid volunteer Group Organisers to help tell our story of Beltane. As a GO, your role will involve developing your story and key moments, in close collaboration with the Beltane Court and Blues (this year, with specific thought given to the 30th Anniversary); recruiting and managing volunteers; making props and costumes; choreographing your activity, music or rhythms; and contributing to the combined body and voice of our event. In return, we can offer you an amazing experience, during which you’ll learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference to others by helping them on their journey to celebrate the start of Summer.

To help guide and shape your ideas, the below will present an outline of the processional narrative of our ritual celebration, a story told in one form or another by hundreds of volunteers over the years, since we began in 1988 (did we mention it’ll be our 30th?). We also set out suggestions for some performance groups that we’d love to see make an appearance, and production groups that are also vital to existence of our festival. The groups mentioned below are ones that have all been part of the event before, but there is always scope for fresh interpretations of those groups, as well as completely new and different concepts to be introduced. Bring your creativity and your unique vision to help us build something incredible together!

Please read through the following information carefully, and then download the Application Form, Example Application Form and Guidance Information, linked at the end of this post.

The deadline for Group Organiser applications is 10pm on Thursday 2 February 2017.

There will be a pre-application meeting for prospective GOs from 2pm-5pm on Sunday 22nd January 2017 at the Canon’s Gait pub. This will be a working meeting with structured discussion. If you would like to come and hang out socially, please feel free to come along afterwards, but we ask that only prospective Group Organisers attend the meeting itself. You can find more information in this post and are welcome to register your attendance on the Facebook Event page. If you’re thinking of applying to run a group but you can’t make it along to the meeting, please get in touch with the Blues at blues[at]beltane[dot]org and/or the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org to share your ideas, as they’re happy to hear from you before applications start arriving.

Our processional narrative…
At its core, this sequence of events sees the May Queen rise from the Earth and reveal Herself in Her maiden aspect. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post. She is accompanied by Her former consort, the Winter King (or Horned God), who has become old and decrepit before his journey toward rebirth as the Green Man. The May Queen must make a choice to travel through the Fire Arch, the door between the worlds, and catalyse the turn of the wheel; a process necessitating the sacrifice of the old God, in order for Him to be reborn anew.

Along the way the May Queen passes through the elemental points, awakening each one as She goes and gathering their energies. She is accompanied on this journey by the Whites, who represent an extension of Her maidenhood and an outward expression of Her new fertility and strong maternal nature.

The procession encounters many characters, which have appeared in many different manifestations over the years. One of these groups has been the Reds, who are extensions of the Green Man and offer a contrasting energy to the Whites. During this elemental journey, the Reds are birthed and, as they explore their new bodies and the world they find themselves in, their energy grows in strength. Upon the awakening of the Fire element, the passion and vigour within the Reds overcomes them; attracted to the Divine light of the May Queen and the beauty of the Whites, they launch themselves at the procession. The chaotic flow of their charge threatens the momentum of the processional ritual and so their advance is fought back: they are repelled, running off to gather their energies anew. The Reds make one more stunning display to entrance the witnesses and pique the interest of the Whites, but once again are repelled and recoil once more into the night.

Thus, the procession moves into the centrepiece of our ritual: the sacrifice and rebirth of the Green Man. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the Hill, spins them into a vortex, making right the conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man presents himself to his Queen – if He is worthy, She will accept Him as Her new consort.

The first responsibility for the newly joined God and Goddess is to complete the journey of the Neid Fire and spark the bonfire, bringing light and warmth to the Hill and often seen as symbolising the marrying of the community. They then lead their court to the Bower, the hearth of the Hill, as the Reds continue their revelry around the newly lit fire. At the Bower the ritual comes to a close, but not before the Reds and Whites have concluded their seduction, both accepting one another as their King and Queen have done. The only thing left to do from here is to dance and revel in the joy of the newborn Summer, as we invite our witnesses to dance with us.

In previous festivals, the following PERFORMANCE groups have played a role in the processional narrative, the journey of the May Queen and Green Man, and the traditions our Society has created together…

Reds
Sparking with unbound, chaotic energy needing to unleash towards the procession, witnesses and Hill, this is a high commitment group and core to the processional narrative. Newly birthed into the world on the night, they are awed by what they have been awakened to; every little detail is a thing to be explored, tested, tasted, clambered on, or similarly conquered. These innocently mischievous newborn beings know no boundaries and so they are free to whirl and dance and express themselves in whatever fashion pleases them.

Filled with power, but with no idea of what to do with it, they are enveloped in the myriad of earthly delights and sensations that they have been exposed to. In seeing the Whites for the first time, they experience a maddening and heady mix of desire and confusion. They know not what these delectable creatures are, but are driven by a wild, passionate need to be with them, sensing their great strength and power. Their awakening has begun…

Whites
The Whites are extensions of the May Queen and embody inner strength, serenity and focus. Another high commitment group, core to the processional narrative, they express as creative and intuitive spirits. Unlike the Reds, they are aware of their purpose and fulfill their obligations towards the Court, before responding to the insistent whispers of their own desires.

The Whites know that their energy is equally as fierce as that of the Reds, but they bend it towards powerfully protecting and shielding the procession and the ritual from the unbound chaos of the Reds. Once the May Queen and Her consort present their courtship at the bonfire, the Whites freely and gladly choose to dance with the Reds, extending the union of the God and Goddess into the community.

Elemental Points
As the May Queen wends Her way around the Hill, She must renew and be rejuvenated by the elemental forces, weaving each one into the alchemy of Her purpose.

We would like to invite 4 separate groups to embody each elemental point of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each group is encouraged to create a performance around an elemental offering to the procession, as well as a second performance for the witnesses. Alternatively, this second performance may involve a joining of forces with other elemental groups, to create a bigger piece involving all four elements. We encourage these groups to offer interpretations of the elements that contribute to the ritual, explore them, express them as BIG as you can, use the Hill in new and exciting ways, and let your imaginations run wild!

Drummers
Our procession is nothing without the pounding beats of our drum crews, the most common being the Beasties and the Processionals. Be it the carnal chaotic Red heartbeat or the insistent and unstoppable rhythm of nature – or even a brand new drum group adding to the spirit of the night – we invite you to come forth and make us move!

Torchbearers

Our Torchbearers have always been an integral part of our ritual, adding ceremony and protection, as well as the creation of the sacred fire. They start the Neid Fire that sparks all other flame on the Hill, creating a liminal boundary between the outside world and witnesses, and those within the procession. Please come forth if you wish to embody this character…and carry fire on a stick!

Bower
The home of our Hill, our community and the May Queen, the Bower is the space where the final ritual between Red and White is played out, a place of nourishment, safety, rest and joy. We’re calling for your vision to create this Sacred Hearth on the Hill, through creation of a magical space, and facilitation of this final aspect of our ritual, ending with a warm welcome extended to all – performers and witnesses alike.

Each year, Beltane is renewed and refreshed by these PERFORMANCE groups, which fill the rest of the Hill with excitement and beauty, forming an important part of the festival experience and bringing entertainment and interaction to witnesses outside of the procession…

In the past, we’ve seen all manner of wonderful beasts, faeries, sprites and spirits, for example, No Point, The Faerie Porters, The Aerie, Random Points of Kindness, Storytellers and Bonfire Point, whose unique characters have all become part of our weaving narrative. They offer their own interpretation to the central story, creating stunning points of interest to light up the dark, fill the air with glorious sound and capture the imagination of all who encounter them.

For groups who choose to have a presence outside of the procession, there is great scope to create more intimate and interactive experiences, inviting witnesses to feel a personal connection to the event and create memories of an incredible evening that they can carry off the Hill with them. If you have a fantastic idea for a group like this, we encourage you to consider how you might use the available spaces within the landscape of the Hill, whether you will travel your own path, or adopt a static area for part/all of the night. Consider also how your core themes intertwine with the story being told, and how you will interact with the Court, the Blues, and the other groups on the night.

Our unique festival couldn’t happen without the wonderful PRODUCTION groups that are an essential presence, in order for the event to take place…

These include…. the Stewards who facilitate the movement of performers around the Hill and dedicate their energy to the safety and happiness of all; Contact Point who offer information and guidance; Tech, responsible for the logistics, structures and safe but dramatic fire art that form the background and backbone of the event; and Photopoint, who capture our creations and memories in beautiful pictures. We are looking for Group Organisers to bring their dynamic personalities, as well as practical knowledge and experience, to build these important foundations, on which the rest of the event rests.

These groups offer a different experience of the festival, providing an opportunity to participate in creating the event from a non-performance perspective, as well as learning and honing a range of professional skills. If you’re considering applying to run one of these groups, we encourage you to include amongst your GO team someone with relevant experience and/or skills, gained either inside or outwith BFS. Think about how you can run and develop a team of volunteers to work together with the Event Coordinator to create the well-oiled machine that powers the festival!

Additional PROJECT Proposals…

Our community is bursting with creativity and imagination. If you are an experienced BFS festival participant, and have an idea that you would like to make a reality as part of the 2017 festival – but feel it doesn’t fit with a group structure, or necessarily require recruitment of additional volunteers, please email festival[at]Beltane[dot]org to request more information on how to submit a proposal.  The deadline for submissions of proposals is Thursday the 2nd of February 2017 – email them to festival [at] Beltane [dot] org. Proposals will be granted at the discretion of the Board, and you may be invited for a short interview to discuss your idea.

GO FOR IT!
You are invited to take inspiration from the over-arching narrative of Beltane, the casting off of Winter’s darkness and revelling in the joy of a newly birthed Summer, from fertility and celebration. Let us make our Beltane a wild Bacchanalian rumpus to drive the community of Edinburgh wild! Bring your beautiful visions to the night!

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Example Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Guidance

Photo of Aerie at Beltane 2016 by Asier Goikoetxea, for Beltane Fire Society

Calling our next Green Man for Beltane 2017

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Dear Beltaners,

It is time for us once again to begin our search for the Green Man, who will take part in the Beltane Fire Festival 2017.  This festival will be our 30th anniversary and we hope that we can create something together that is truly special and memorable: the Green Man will be an integral part of this. We now invite those who feel drawn to the role, to step forward and express their interest.

Notes of interest should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your application shortly thereafter. All applicants MUST be available for:

  • interview on the evening of Tuesday 31 January 2017
  • at least one day of the GO weekend on Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 February 2017 
  • the Open Meeting on Sunday 26 February 2017

 

We would also like to invite the BFS community to submit the names of any members that they would like to nominate for the role of Green Man. Perhaps you know someone whom you feel would be perfect, embodying all that our society looks for in a Green Man – but who has not stepped forward themselves, for whatever reason.  Any member of the society may make a recommendation for Green Man, to the Blues or Board; the nominee will then be approached, to have a chat about their willingness and availability to enter into the selection process. Nominations should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Monday 23 January: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your nomination shortly thereafter.

 

What is the role of the Green Man?

We cannot completely define this for you. Each Green Man has their own journey, their own story to spin – but we can offer some contextual thoughts.

The Beltane Fire Festival is a living, dynamic reinterpretation and modernisation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual, and is the largest of its kind. Having been resurrected as a performance art piece and practice in 1988, it has become a central focus for our community, bringing people together to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Summer and the fertility of the land.

The purpose of our festival is not to recreate ancient practices, but to honour the spirit of our ancient forebears, whilst creating our own connection to the cycles of nature. There is a great deal of joy and the revelry fostered in the ritual: it is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. A time for celebrating fertility, both in the context of our biology as well as our creative energies, forming the fertility of our creative community.

Our Beltane celebrates the turning of the wheel of the year, from Spring into the beginning of Summer: we celebrate each step of the cycle with the festivities. Some aspects change from year to year, but certain elements are fixed and are repeated: one of these is the Green Man and his journey. In the context of the Beltane Fire Festival, the Green Man is the embodiment of the earth, the personification of the world around us, and a counterpoint to the divine entity of our May Queen.

People’s lives upon this planet have always been intrinsically defined and shaped by nature itself; our lives defined by our relationship (or lack thereof) with it, by how we interact with nature, and by the way it behaves and responds. Central to our relationship with the earth are the cycles of the seasons, the constant flux and flow of life, the continuous change from one state to another. Our Green Man is a living embodiment of the earth’s cyclical nature: a character who appears all over the world, common across many different cultures throughout human history.  As global location changes, so does the name, the personality, and traits – all being particular to that culture’s manifestation of the Green Man. But always present is the human need to represent the interdependent nature of the relationship between our species and the natural world.

The crucial aspect of the Green Man’s role is his death and subsequent rebirth, which provides the centrepiece of our ritual. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the hill, spins them into a vortex, creating the right conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community of witnesses, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man then presents himself to his Queen – if he is worthy, she will accept him as her new consort.

This is just a brief introduction to the history and concept of the Green Man, and how the role has been represented by the many folk who have performed it. We encourage you seek out more information if the subject interests you; the role is fundamentally important to our festival and the community.

The journey of the chosen person is both solitary and social; it is up to you to decide on this balance as you define your own process, with the support of the Blues. However, we ask two things of you:

  1. The Green Man is expected to be involved in actively creating the main storyline of the festival, along with the May Queen. This is a fundamental part of the whole Society’s vision, and the understanding of the Green Man’s journey. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post.
  1. A Green Man applicant should consider their entire journey carefully, and should be prepared to share their character vision with the society, and preparation plans with the Blues and Event Coordinator.

 

If you are considering stepping forward for this role but are wavering, or simply looking for more info, we’d like to encourage you to contact blues[at]beltane[dot]org for a chat. Applicants are all interviewed individually by the Blues, representatives from the Board and the May Queen, with the final selection being made following careful consideration. The Board, as in previous years, has final responsibility for ratifying the choice made by the interviewing panel.

 

Thank you,

Your Blues

Photo of the Green Man at Beltane 2015 by Mark Taylor

Planniversary! [meeting for current BFS members only]

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On Sunday 20th November, from 2pm – 5pm, we’ll be holding a grand PLANNIVERSARY meeting at the Calton Centre, for any and all BFS members who can make it (and have the energy).

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OPEN MEETING. This is a meeting only for people who are current BFS members, i.e. who have taken part as a BFS volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals. If you want to join us for one of our future festivals, this isn’t the way to do that. Instead, please do come along to the Beltane 2017 open meeting that we’ll be holding in February 2017 – we’ll share all the details in the new year on beltane.org as well as all our social media channels so it’ll be impossible to miss. Thanks!

As you may know, 2017 will be our 30th Beltane Fire Festival, and we’d love BFS members to come share ideas and plan how we can celebrate this special anniversary.

This isn’t an open meeting like the ones we have at the beginning of each festival, and it isn’t like the blethers we hold every now and again: this planniversary meeting is an entirely unique (and beautiful) beast. We want existing BFS members to bring ideas about what we could do to mark the anniversary, over and above our usual festival activities. There will be lots of active smaller group discussion to spark ideas, rather than the one-at-a-time-in-front-of-everyone format we use for blethers. We’ll be looking for people to come ready to start thinking big and help make things happen – but it’s no problem if you don’t have any particular ideas in mind. We just want you to be part of it.

To be clear: this won’t be about tying yourself to anything that will restrict your ability to run or sign up to groups for Beltane 2017 itself – we won’t be discussing festival groups and concepts, characters and so on at this meeting. That’ll all happen in the usual way and to the usual timeline. This event is just about kicking off anything else we might want to make happen, so we don’t miss the opportunity our 30th anniversary provides. We might decide to do very little, or lots – it’s entirely up to us all as BFS members.

So, mark the planniversary meeting in your diaries for 20th November, and we hope to see you there!

Love and hugs,

Your BFS Board and Blues xx

You’re welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event page.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Laura Wallace

Two days to go until Samhuinn 2016!

We’re full of excitement today because it’s out last full-cast walkthrough rehearsal and Samhuinn is in two days! After months of planning, creativity and work, it’s almost here and we can’t wait.

If you’re thinking of celebrating with us in Edinburgh, the festival begins at 9pm on 31st October at the top of the Royal Mile with a procession that moves down the Mile to the stage at West Parliament Square. You can find out all about the event and the Samhuinn story on this page and you’re welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event too.

We’ve also created a page filled with useful information to help you make the most of your night with us, so we definitely advise spending five minutes reading through our Samhuinn Audience Experience before Monday night. While it’s in no way essential to know exactly who everyone is and what everything means to have a fantastic time, you can learn a bit more about the colourful characters you’ll encounter at the festival on our Court, Blues and Group Info pages.

Attendance is by donation, meaning there are no tickets but our friendly, costumed Bucketeers will be wandering around all evening if you’d like to make a donation. You can even donate by PayPal if you’d prefer. As a volunteer-led registered charity, we rely on your donations to keep doing what we do and celebrating our unique festivals with you in Edinburgh every year.

If you upload your photos and video from the night to social media, don’t forget to use our #samhuinn2016 hashtag and give us a mention so we can see and share your memories. You can find us at facebook.com/beltanefiresociety, instagram.com/beltanefiresociety and twitter.com/beltanefs. Speaking of social media, we’ll be sharing some photos and video live from the event (mostly on Facebook) so if you can’t make it along or are following us from another part of the world, you can still experience the festival.

Our incredible team of hardworking volunteer photographers will be capturing all the action on the night. We’ll have a small selection of photos to share with you in the wee small hours after the festival and the rest (literally hundreds of them!) will be appearing on Facebook over the following weeks. Everything on our Facebook page is publicly viewable, so even if you aren’t a Facebook user you’ll still be able to see and enjoy all our content. If you keep an eye on Facebook tonight, you might even see some live action from the final walkthrough rehearsal.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 is at 9pm on Monday 31st October on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Find out all about it here.

Family Samhuinn 2016: A spooky invitation to children and their families

family-samhuinn-poster-preview

Family Samhuinn is a spooky invitation to children and their families to discover the ancient celebrations of the Celtic New Year via the medium of having loads of fun!

Family Samhuinn
Saturday 29th October, 12pm to 3pm
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Free, drop-in event for accompanied children 5 and up (donations appreciated)

Our volunteers crafted heaps of fun for everyone at Family Beltane earlier this year.

Our volunteers crafted heaps of fun for everyone at Family Beltane earlier this year. Photo by Mark Taylor.

Join us as we explore aspects both creepy and cosy of the changing seasons. Listen to a tale or two, make a mask or get your face painted, have a go at the drums, bob for apples, meet strange and spooky characters…and look out for the Meadows Mummers, who are bound to show up when they’re least expected to delight everyone with the traditional story of Galoshin. Regardless of age, there will be plenty for everyone to do and see!

As this is a drop-in event you can feel free to stay as little or as long as you would like and take part in as many activities as you wish. We also encourage everyone to come dressed up in their scariest costumes. There may even be some goodies for our best-dressed visitors!

This event is free but we will have a donation box where you can make a contribution towards the cost of the event. Activities are suitable for children from five years old as well as their grown-ups and all children must be accompanied by an adult. The Storytelling Centre is a fully wheelchair-accessible venue.

Family Samhuinn is part of TRACS Scotland’s International Storytelling Festival – check out the programme of events here.

You are welcome to register your attendance on our official Facebook event page.

Samhuinn Audience Experience: Information to help you celebrate and enjoy

As much as the mystery of Samhuinn is part of what makes it unique and special, some things shouldn’t be mysterious. These things include getting to the festival, finding a suitable place to watch from and having the best evening possible with your friends and family. This post is filled with information to help you have a great celebration with us so feel free to share it with anyone you know who is coming to witness Samhuinn 2016.

Samhuinn 2014 Procession

 

Getting There

The event starts at 9pm so city centre on-street parking will all be off-meter in plenty of time for you to get parked somewhere close by (close by is basically anywhere in the Old Town, or parts of the New Town for a slightly longer walk) and head to wherever you want to be for the start of the festival. There are also some multi-storey car parks around Edinburgh city centre, but please check closing times and tariffs before choosing one to use. A taxi will be able to drop you off near just about any point on the processional route before the festival starts. If you’re arriving by rail, Waverley station is the best place to get off the train. Any bus that takes you into the centre of Edinburgh will get you pretty close to where you need to be.

If you have mobility considerations, especially in relation to making your way up hills, we recommend checking out transport and/or parking information online in advance so you can be sure to get to the festival in the safest, most comfortable way for you.

In Samhuinn’s two decade history, rain has not yet stopped play so even if a wet winter makes an early appearance the festival will still be happening. The procession and stage performance last for approximately two hours total and October nights are chilly even when they’re dry, so please wrap up warmly and consider bringing an extra layer or two!

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the city for the night, Visit Scotland‘s accommodation section is very helpful. Please be aware that Beltane Fire Society does not advise on specific travel or accommodation options and we are not affiliated with any organisations that do.

 

Accessibility

The processional route down the Royal Mile is on a cobbled incline with kerbed pavements. West Parliament Square, where the stage performance will be taking place, is also cobbled and paved, and there are some bollards towards the road side of the space. 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. 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.

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. For accessibility-related questions, please email access@beltane.org in advance.

 

Families With Kids

Families with children are welcome at the Samhuinn Fire Festival at parental discretion. Please familiarise yourself with the Accessibility section above and How To Watch section below before deciding whether or not you feel the event will be appropriate and enjoyable for your litle ones. We are also hosting a Family Samhuinn event on the afternoon of Saturday 29th October which is specially created and run for the younger members of our community and their grown-ups.

 

How To Watch

The procession itself will begin at 9pm at the top end of the Royal Mile near Edinburgh Castle and will then head down the Mile to West Parliament Square for the main stage performance. The whole route tends to get quite busy, so it’s up to you what you want to see most. If you find a good spot on the Royal Mile, you’ll get to see the whole procession as it passes by. If you’d rather see the stage performance, heading to West Parliament Square to get a place to stand with a good view will mean missing some of the procession but being able to see what happens on stage.

Some intrepid souls do try to follow the procession and then make their way into the Square, but things do tend to get really crowded so while that’s an adventurous option, it may mean being on the move a lot and not getting to see a huge amount. If you’re there for action and atmosphere and don’t mind losing a bit of the visual aspect, that can be really exciting. If you’d rather see more in one go without rushing about, being stationary may work better for you.

No matter where you stand or walk, you’ll definitely hear a lot of drums and see something fiery though. People who happen to be in pubs along the route tend to pour out the doors to see what’s going on, so if you do want to be somewhere on the Mile to see the procession go past, finding somewhere to stand that isn’t directly outside a pub is probably a good idea.

As with Beltane Fire Festival, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever see every single part of the event. This is not a sit-down show. It is investigative outdoor theatre, an immersive experience in motion, and part of that experience is about the atmosphere of the city at night, the crowds of people celebrating together and your unique view, which will always be a little different from someone else’s.

 

Taking Pictures

Our witnesses are welcome to take pictures and video at Samhuinn but it is essential that your safety, and that of our performers, is prioritised. This means that audience members with cameras are treated in exactly the same way as audience members without cameras, do not get special access, should not attempt to enter performance spaces (including the procession) and should adhere to advice from our event stewards who are there to help everyone have a safe and happy night.

Our performers will be in character throughout the festival so while some may choose to interact with your and your camera in a manner befitting their performance, many will not. Please respect this and do not try to force performers to behave or react in a certain way so you can shoot a photo or video of them.

 

Making Donations

Samhuinn is not a ticketed event, it happens in a public place and there is no entrance fee. The festival, like everything else we do including year-round operation of our volunteer-run charity, is primarily funded by ticket sales from Beltane accompanied by donations at our busks and at Samhuinn. We literally couldn’t do what we do without your support, so on Samhuinn night our costumed bucketeers will be making their way through the audience so those of you who wish to make a donation in person can do so. If you don’t encounter a bucketeer (there are lots more of you than there are of them!) or would prefer to make a donation in advance, you can do so securely through PayPal.

Although not Samhuinn-specific, you can find lots of information about what your support enables us, as an organisation, to do in Why Beltane couldn’t happen without your ticket fee (or Why our audience are the best people ever).

 

Our People, Our City and You

We request that you treat BFS performers and production crew, as well as your fellow audience members and the festival site, with respect and consideration so that we can share our celebration together safely and happily. We are proud to be part of the year-round festival landscape of Edinburgh, keeping our incredible event in the heart of the city, but we do not want to negatively impact our environment or the residents and businesses who are kind enough to welcome us. Please help us by respecting each other and your surroundings.

 

More Information About Samhuinn 2016

About Samhuinn Fire Festival
Samhuinn 2016 Performance and Production Groups
Samhuinn 2016 Court (Cailleach, Summer King and Winter King)
Samhuinn 2016 Blues
Samhuinn 2016 Event Coordinator
The Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 is at 9pm on Monday 31st October on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Find out all about it here. If you have questions about the festival itself, please email festival@beltane.org in advance. We look forward to celebrating with you!

 

Photo of Samhuinn 2014 by Mark Taylor

Announcing our Samhuinn 2016 poster

This year’s foliage and feather laden design is by freelance illustrator, and Beltane Fire Society member, Sonya Hallett. Submitted for last year’s poster competition, the powerful image had lingered in our collective minds. When the submissions this year didn’t quite hit the mark, Sonya’s poster was the obvious choice.

An illustrator, maker and amateur entomologist, Sonya has been a part of the Beltane Fire Society since 2006, often as a member of Elemental groups: “I don’t really have the time to join in as a performer these days, but I wanted to take part in a different way. It feels like I’m doing something, still. One of the things I’ve always loved about Samhuinn is the idea of that horned god creature, who’s worn away, hence the skull as the central image; there’s still the autumn foliage, it’s not devoid of life, but it’s stripped back, and slightly sinister, too.

Samhuinn 2016 poster by Sonya Hallett

Like the spectacle of Samhuinn itself, Sonya’s design is “eye catching from a distance, but if you come up close, there’s lots more to find.” You can enjoy the fine detail up close and in person, this 31st October. Keep an eye on Sonya’s plans to take over the world through insect robots and knitted giant squids here.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 is at 9pm on Monday 31st October on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Find out all about it here.

Be part of our Cailleach’s Costume

be-part-of-our-cailleachs-costume

Our Samhuinn 2016 Cailleach, Diana, has a very special invitation for you…

I would love to incorporate into my costume as Cailleach on Samhuinn night, squares of fabric from anyone near or far who feels a resonance with my personal ideas I will be holding on the night, of Winter being a time when we may be more likely to come face-to-face with our inner demons and that by befriending them, when ready, with support, we can transform them via an empowered and loving curiosity so they can become part of our strength – a strength that is all the more resilient for incorporationg our vulnerabilities and daring to show them.

For safety near fire and for other design reasons, I need the fabric squares to be:

PURE NATURAL FIBRES ONLY (wool, cotton, silk, linen etc.)
WHITE OR CREAM COLOURED
10CM SQUARE (approximately)

They could be knitted, crocheted, embroidered, spun and woven, or simply cut from an old t-shirt. I suggest one per person.

My invitation extends to all those involved in this year’s Samhuinn festival; anyone involved in a previous Beltane Fire Society festival; their friends and family; and on outwards to even include anyone with no direct connection to BFS. I will endeavour to incorporate them all, within reason, and am very open to reading any included notes with great care, though no note is required, and I would be unable to commit for sure to replying.

Please post them to:

Diana Calthrop c/o Beltane Fire Society
Room 1.01
St Margaret’s House
151 London Road
Edinburgh
EH7 6AE

To arrive ideally before the end of September, to have the best chance to be included.

With love and thanks,
Diana

The Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 is at 9pm on Monday 31st October on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Find out all about it here.

Announcing Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016!

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2009 by Neil Hodgins

What?

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016

When?

9pm on Monday 31st October 2016

Where?

This year we’re returning to our traditional home! We will be processing down Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile to West Parliament Square, where the stage performance will take place.

Is it a ticketed event?

No. Tickets are not required for the Samhuinn Fire Festival. Attendance is by donation. You can donate your chosen amount to one of our lovely Bucketeers on the night, or via PayPal.

At Samhuinn, the veil between the worlds draws thin and the spirits gather close to bear witness as the courts of Summer and Winter battle for control of the seasons. In her wild ecstasy of grief and sorrow, the Cailleach ushers the last breath of Summer’s opulent decadence into the beyond to make way for the icy storms of Winter’s dark reign.

More information

About Samhuinn Fire Festival
Samhuinn 2016 Performance and Production Groups
Samhuinn 2016 Court (Cailleach, Summer King and Winter King)
Samhuinn 2016 Blues
Samhuinn 2016 Event Coordinator

BFS online

Official Samhuinn 2016 Facebook event
Beltane Fire Society on Facebook
Twitter: @BeltaneFS #samhuinn2016
Instagram: @BeltaneFireSociety #samhuinn2016

For families with children

Families with children are welcome at the Samhuinn Fire Festival at parental discretion. Please familiarise yourself with the Accessibility section below before deciding whether or not you feel the event will be appropriate and enjoyable for your litle ones. We are also hosting a Family Samhuinn event on the afternoon of Saturday 29th October.

Accessibility

The processional route down the Royal Mile is on a cobbled incline with kerbed pavements. West Parliament Square, where the stage performance will be taking place, is also cobbled and paved, and there are some bollards towards the road side of the space. 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. 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. For accessibility-related questions, please email access@beltane.org in advance.

We request that you treat BFS performers and production crew, as well as your fellow audience members and the festival site, with respect and consideration so that we can share our celebration together safely and happily.

We are proud to be part of the year-round festival landscape of Edinburgh, keeping our incredible event in the heart of the city, but we do not want to negatively impact our environment or the residents and businesses who are kind enough to welcome us.

If you have questions about the festival itself, please email festival@beltane.org in advance. Please note that BFS cannot advise on parking or accommodation in, or travel to or within, Edinburgh.

Guardians, games and gateways – join us as a Steward!

stewards-at-samhuinn-2015-by-richard-winpenny

Our Samhuinn 2016 Stewards would like to invite you to join them…

Stewards are the friendly face of Samhuinn and the Guardians of our performers and of our witnesses. Stewarding is a great way to see the festival and to gain some confidence and experience. We are the gateway to BFS! If you would like to get involved in the festival but don’t have a lot of time or performance experience, come and join us for fun and games on the Meadows (then more fun and games in the pub afterwards).

We are very flexible when it comes to attendance and welcome everyone for teambuilding and merriment in the run up to the night itself. We are open to folk who are brand new to the Society and also experienced participants who maybe don’t have much time for this festival but would still like to be involved. We meet every Sunday outside the Pavilion Café on the Meadows at 2pm.

If you’d like to join our wonderful squad of Stewards, please get in touch with their glorious leader James at stewards@beltane.org or rock up to the Meadows this Sunday!

Photo of Stewards at Samhuinn 2015 by Richard Winpenny