Don’t Miss Your Chance to Get Involved with Beltane 2017

Reds rehearsing for Samhuinn 2016, by Neil Barton

What: Open Meeting for Beltane Fire Festival 2017
Why: Find out how you can be a part of the festival!
When: 12.30pm – 3pm on Sunday 26 February 2017
Where:  La Belle Angele, 11 Hastie’s Close, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1HJ
Who: Everyone welcome!

In case you haven’t noticed from our excited posts, we’re getting Beltane 2017 preparations well and truly rolling. Our Group Organisers have gone above and beyond for our 30th festival celebrations and we cannot wait to see their visions realised on The Hill on Sunday 30th April.

But to do this, we need your help. Beltane is living, breathing community of several hundred volunteers that come together every year to create something really special. Whether you’re a seasoned Beltaner, a curious audience member or a complete newbie looking to get involved with something spectacular, everyone is welcome.

Getting involved with one of Beltane’s multifarious groups offers a chance to learn new skills, make new friends and become part of Edinburgh’s most welcoming creative community. There are opportunities to become performers, drummers, stewards, photographers or part of the technical crew that make the whole event come together. Whether you’ve got talents you want to share, or skills you want to learn, come along to our Open Meeting to find out more.

This year our Open Meeting will be held on Sunday 26 February from 12:30pm-3:00pm in La Belle Angele, 11 Hastie’s Close, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1HJ. It provides an opportunity to hear about the performance and production groups you can join, talk to the organisers, find out more about the festival and sign up to take part.

If you can’t make it but would still like to be involved, details of all performance and production groups (including contact information for the organisers) will be posted on  shortly before the Open Meeting so keep checking back to find out more. You can also join our Facebook Event for updates.

Photo of Beltane 2016 rehersals by Neil Barton.

Beltane 2017 GO Weekend


This weekend saw the very first meeting of this year’s lovely bunch of Group Organisers. Sharing a myriad of inspiring plans for our thirtieth anniversary celebrations, the GOs, Blues, Court, Event Coordinator and Communications Coordinator came together in work and play. Building on existing plans, it provided a fantastic opportunity to kickstart this year’s event, as well as an opportunity to get to know one another and share what Beltane means to each and every one of us.

If you’d like to get involved in either a performance or production role, there are a lot of exciting opportunities this year that we can’t wait to share with you. Come along to the Open Meeting on Sunday 26th February from 12:30-3:00pm in La Belle Angèle to find out more.

Imbolc: the wheel is turning…


Imbolc (or Imolg) is a festival of returning light and the beginning of Spring, celebrated on or around 1st February. It’s one of the four Celtic lunar calendar festivals (Samhuinn, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh) that are dear to Beltane Fire Society hearts.

While we don’t mark Imbolc with big public events like we do Beltane and Samhuinn, many of our members mark it each year in their own ways – and will have yesterday. In the past Beltane Fire Society has marked it with smaller community events around the beginning of February too. So this year, as part of our thinkings on how we can celebrate the year of our thirtieth Beltane, we decided to revive that tradition.

For the wider Edinburgh community, we are holding an event tonight (now fully booked!) at the Storytelling Centre: ‘Weaving Imbolc: willow and words’. Some of our volunteers will be telling stories of the turning seasons and teaching how to make lanterns and decorations from willow, so they can be used to decorate Calton Hill for our Beltane festival in April. If you missed the chance to book a spot on this Imbolc event but want to learn more, we like the look of this other event at the Storytelling Centre, which we aren’t involved in but covers similar themes and stories.

For people who are already members of the Beltane Fire Society, we’re holding a low-key Imbolc pot luck feast and club night this weekend too – details have been circulated, but email us if you’re a member and haven’t heard about it!

Lastly, as Imbolc takes us a step closer to the beginning of Summer, we decided to make 1 February the date we opened ticket bookings for our big event of the year: the 2017 Beltane Fire Festival. So if you feel the first stirrings of Spring and want to join us on 30 April to celebrate the coming Summer, now’s a great time to get your ticket.

However you are celebrating, firey love and hugs from all of us at the Beltane Fire Society!

Photo by Sara Ferreira



Two days left to apply to be a Beltane group organiser: DO IT!


If you’re planning to apply to run a group or submit a project proposal for Beltane 2017, you have TWO DAYS to put the finishing touches on your application and get it submitted!

The deadline’s 10pm on Thursday 2 February 2017. There are heaps of guidance notes, and all the forms you may need, over here.

We’re also open to project proposals, from those who have an idea for the festival that they feel doesn’t necessarily fit within a group structure, or require volunteer recruitment. Drop us an email at festival [at] beltane [dot] org for more information, also by 2 February.

Get it done!

Photo of Fire Point rehearsal for Beltane 2016 by Bartlomiej Pyrz

BFS members: help plan decorations for the Hill!

Beltane 2015, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Helen Bradburn is coordinating the latest iteration of ‘Hillusphere’, a special project aiming to provide more decoration across Calton Hill for our thirtierth Beltane Festival. Through it, we will be adding a bit more magic to the whole event by providing illumination and points of interest in the darker areas of the Hill. This is designed for the benefit of the public rather than performers, so they might have things to wander about to and look at during the moments when they can’t see a performance.

Hillusphere isn’t a festival ‘group’ in the usual sense – so as a BFS member if you want to get involved with Hillusphere, you aren’t commiting to focusing on this on the night of Beltane itself – meaning that when the open meeting comes around you can still join other groups. It’s just a project that you can get involved in or share ideas through as and when suits you, and when you have time. Hillusphere (via Helen) will be working along-side/closely with Tech when we have a Tech group in place, to make sure everything works smoothly.

Much as Tech is not a cloakroom, Hillusphere is not a props building department for groups. But like Tech they are here as and where they can to help groups achieve that special something they feel is essential to this year 30th celebration. Potential GOs and performers can contact Hillusphere to find out where decoration and installation might cross over with ideas they are starting to cook up.

Hillusphere need to do some investigation and brainstorming in order to get a manageable plan in place, despite the fact that groups aren’t yet up and running. So, there will be a meeting therefore on Sunday 29th January with the sole aim of looking at the Hill – and specifically places where traditionally performances don’t take place – to have a quick, on-the-spot, brain dump of ‘stuff’ that could be in the space… ideas/notes/quick sketches… we will use them all!

So, join Helen at 1pm by the Acropolis on Sunday 29th January if you think this might be of interest to you or you have things you want to contribute. Also please register your Hillusphere interest by emailing: Hillusphere [at] Beltane [dot] org.

Please note: if you aren’t yet a BFS member but want to get involved in this festival for the first time – this isn’t the event for that. But we’ll soon be sharing details of our Beltane 2017 open meeting, which is the perfect way to find out what’s going on and how you can join, so check here and our Facebook page for details across the next few weeks!

Photo by Neil Barton for Beltane Fire Society.

Deadline reminder for Beltane 2017 – Green Man

A reminder of the upcoming deadline(s) for the role of Green Man, at our 30th Anniversary Festival. Full information on the role and how to apply can be found here.

If you’d like to nominate a member of our community to take on the role, you have until 7pm on Monday 23 January 2017.

If you yourself are drawn to the story of the Green Man, notes of interest need to be submitted by 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017.

Whilst we’re here – it’s also just over a week till the pre-application meeting for Group Organisers, on Sunday 22 January 2017. A chance to chat to Blues, Trustees and experienced GOs about what it means to run a group at Beltane. More detailed info here, or RSVP at the Facebook event here.

Communications Coordinator wanted for Beltane 2017


  • Contractor title: Communications Coordinator
  • Organisation: Beltane Fire Society
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Hours: Approx 160 hours across February – May 2017
  • Fee: Paid (Please ask for details)
  • Deadline: 9am Monday 30 January

We’re looking for a communications contractor to help spread the word about our 30th Beltane Fire Festival. If you can wrangle journalists, secure top-class press coverage and use web and social media to tell stories about creative happenings, this is a contract for you.

Who we are
The Beltane Fire Society is a community of volunteers, and we stage huge fire festivals in central Edinburgh on the last days of April and October each year. We use them to mark the turning seasons and keep ancient Celtic traditions alive. They’re incredible visual spectacles with audiences of thousands, and we get lots of press and social media attention from around the world.

Focus of the role 
This year is our 30th Beltane Fire Festival. We want to make sure it is well attended, but also to share our story and the traditions we love with everyone who is interested, on and offline. Our comms coordinator will lead this work, through two areas of responsibility: engaging with news media to maximise our press coverage, and running our online presence.

The news media element will involve planning, writing and pitching feature articles to increase interest in our event, getting event details on listings sites, writing and sending press releases and setting up interviews, as well as coordinating all the journalists who want to film, write about or photograph our event – responding to their enquiries and guiding those we give special access to on the night of the event itself.

The online component will involve telling our stories and increasing interest in our event through our website and social media platforms. This will include planning, writing and posting content, responding to queries and comments left for us online, coordinating with our volunteer photographers and videographers to store and share their work, and finding creative ways to engage our audiences and community.

Who we’re looking for
We’ve been lucky to have had some fantastic volunteers and contractors working on the separate elements of this role in the past. Now we’re looking for someone to continue all their great work and build on it. That’ll take someone:

  • Who really gets how news media outlets work and has demonstrable experience of engaging with press to get great coverage;
  • Who really understands social media and web CMS, and has demonstrable experience of using them to communicate effectively (ideally in an events context);
  • Interested in or willing to learn about Beltane Fire Society, our principles, events and style – and who will work well with our volunteers;
  • With great writing skills and ability to devise, pitch and write great web and social content, as well as press releases and feature articles;
  • Able to build strategy to meet press coverage and social media targets, and to report regularly on both;
  • Willing and able to commit to working with us flexibly from mid February through to mid May, often including evenings and Sunday afternoons. Must be available on 19 February, 26 February, 16 April, 22 and 23 April and 30 April.
  • With great people skills and initiative, who can work well in a small team with members of our board of trustees and our Event Coordinator;
  • Based in Edinburgh or within easy travelling distance, and able to work from home.

To apply or find out more, email your CV and a cover letter setting out your suitability to by 9am on Monday 30 January.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Dan Mosley, for Beltane Fire Society

Copyright Mark Taylor for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

Pre-Application Meeting for Prospective Beltane 2017 Group Organisers


2pm-5pm on Sunday 22nd January 2017

Canons’ Gait Bar, 232 Cannongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DQ

Prospective Beltane 2017 Group Organisers

If you’re considering applying to run a group at Beltane Fire Festival 2017, this meeting is the perfect opportunity to speak to Blues, Trustees and experienced GOs for guidance. Whether you’re leaning toward applying for a group which is part of the processional narrative, a performance group which may take an alternative path or occupy a static space on the Hill, or a production group that will help form the physical or logistical structure of our event, we strongly advise that you attend and talk to the Blues and Board about your ideas.

While we would definitely like to see you at this meeting even if you’ve run groups, or the same group, a number of times, this is particularly important for people with limited experience of group organising at BFS events. If you’re new to GOing, you are especially encouraged to attend. It’s also a chance to potentially find a second GO if you have a great idea but are currently working alone. Conversely, if you’re genuinely open to GOing in general and would be happy to meet with someone who already has a concept for a group in mind, please join us!

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 during the actual meeting.

For further information about Group Organiser applications for Beltane 2017, please see this post.

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 the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org to share your ideas as they’d really like to hear from you before applications start arriving.

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

Calling our next Green Man for Beltane 2017


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