Introducing our Group Organisers for Beltane 2017…

We’re very excited to introduce our intrepid volunteer Group Organisers for Beltane Fire Festival 2017! These amazing people will be working incredibly hard over the coming months, recruiting and training volunteers for performance and production groups, planning, creating, rehearsing and being generally awesome and dedicated to building an epic festival.

More information about the groups themselves will be appearing here on our website in time for the Open Meeting (which you should totally come to if you want to be part of the festival – Sunday 26 February, 12.30pm)!


  • Tom Watton, Lotte Kravitz and Robin Crane


  • Jay Wiwezar, Sarah Barr and Andrew Bell


  • Lindsay Hunter and Anna Meulepas


  • Bruno Marchand and Nathan Goodfriend


  • Camilla Ginty, Irene Carita Morelli and Moira Morrison


  • Tom Gibson and Rob Thorburn


  • Jackie Burrell and Karen Dickson


  • Eliza Biscotti and Hanna Lappalainen


  • Mark Taylor and Neil Barton


  • Thomas Caine and Gavin Kennerly


  • William Fergusson and Sam Haddow


  • To be confirmed very soon!


  • Helen Bradburn, Greig Douglas and Jonathan Crombie


  • Bradley Mcarthur and Dulcea Wind


  • Seth Ewin and Katie Craig


  • Hannah McIlhinney and Steffi Taylor


Contact chair [at] beltane [dot] org or festival [at] beltane [dot] org or chat to us at the Open Meeting.

Beltane 2014 Stewards by Stephen Yu

Could you run Bower or Stewards this Beltane?

Stewards at Beltane 2015 by Martin McCarthy

Do you feel a call to welcome our community to the Bower as their journey about Calton Hill ends? Or do you have the skills to coordinate our team of volunteer stewards for the festival? We’re looking for folk who do!

Though the deadline for applications to run groups for Beltane has passed (and we’re VERY excited about the ideas that have been put forward), we’d like to add a couple of key components: Bower and Stewards.

So, we are reopening the application process briefly to specifically call for applications from those who may want to be volunteer group organisers for either of those two groups.

Apply by this Sunday

If you are interested in running either group (no others please – we have plenty already!), complete an application form and send it by 12 noon on Sunday 12 February, to festival [at] beltane [dot] org. You can find the forms and all the guidance about applications from the original shoutout; and if you want to chat with us before submitting a form, go ahead and email with your questions, we’re happy to help.

Here’s a little more information about the two groups we’re looking to find organisers for…


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.

As well as any creative and ritual joy you’d like to bring, we are very keen to make sure we have fire and warmth for all our performers in the space (as we did last year with lovely fire pits).

Bower is a key component of our festival, and we’d love you to step forward and make a home on the Hill for everyone!


Our unique festival couldn’t happen without the wonderful production groups like stewards – they are an essential presence for the event to take place.

The stewards facilitate the movement of performers around the Hill and dedicate their energy to the safety and happiness of all. We are looking for organisers to bring their dynamic personalities, as well as practical knowledge and experience – to help the event run smoothly and to make sure stewards and witnesses all have a great experience of our event.

Organising stewards is a great opportunity to be part of our festival and to develop and hone your own skills, personally and professionally. If you’re thinking of applying we encourage you to include amongst your GO team someone with relevant experience and/or skills, gained either inside or outwith BFS. We need you to help create the well-oiled machine that’s at the heart of our festival.

If you fancy running either group, we’d really love you to apply! The power to make these things happen lies with you…

Photo by Martin McCarthy

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…

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…

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!

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!


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!

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.

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

Learn to work with willow [Workshop for BFS members only]


Beltane 2016 / The Aerie / St Margaret's House / EdinburghOn Sunday 4 December at the Calton Centre in Edinburgh, 1pm – 5pm, we are holding a free workshop for Beltane Fire Society members on using willow for festival props and decorations. Places on ‘Working with willow: lanterns and puppets and puppety lanterns!’ are very limited, so if you want to join, please book your place now.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WORKSHOP FOR CURRENT BFS MEMBERS ONLY (i.e those who have taken part as a Beltane Fire Society volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals).

As thoughts of our Edinburgh Beltane’s 30th anniversary are beginning to seep into our creative consciousness, it’s about time to start sharing some of our long-forgotten skills and crafts. In years gone by willow crafts in the forms of lanterns and puppets and puppety-lanterns were a BFS staple; having let this art fall by the wayside in recent years, it’s now time to dust it off and see what we can do with it for Beltane 2017!

BFS invites you to book a free place to join members Helen Bradburn and Ross Flemington for a workshop from 1pm-5pm on Sunday 4th December, in the downstairs studio at the Calton Centre. In the session our volunteer workshop leaders will show you how to play and create with willow (get started by helping make lanterns for the Hill!); to learn and experiment; give you chance to ask questions, and to throw around ideas about the illuminated world of willow lanterns and puppets.

In this workshop we will cover:

  • Suppliers and materials – sourcing
  • Getting to grips with your materials
  • Finding out what BFS has to loan for big projects
  • Scope of ideas – how small, how big?
  • Puppet building – backpacks and the basics (presented by Ross Flemington)
  • Illuminating spaces
  • Making a lantern: finish it on the day or take it away with you and bring it back to the Open Meeting to inspire others… we would like you to contribute your efforts, by making a lantern which will be on the hill for the 30th celebrations… yep, the prep starts here!

Please bring water and lunch/nibbles for yourself and to share, to keep us all going across this bumper workshop!

How to book your place

Please only book a place if you are certain you will attend: places are strictly limited to make sure those who do come along will get as much support and chance to learn as possible. But if you are sure, book your place now via Eventbrite.

Only those who have booked on will be able to take part in this particular workshop, but we’re hoping to run many more as part of the build up to our 30th anniversary, on a whole host of skills, so don’t worry if you can’t make this one!

Photo by Neil Barton for Beltane Fire Society

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


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 or rock up to the Meadows this Sunday!

Photo of Stewards at Samhuinn 2015 by Richard Winpenny

Samhuinn 2016 Tech needs you!

Tech by Neil Barton

Are you made of practicality with a healthy dose of creativity and a desire to work with an awesome team to (literally) build a festival? Our Samhuinn 2016 Techies want to hear from you!

Ably managed by our steel-toe-capped rockstars Helen, Greig and Jonny, and running on a heady cocktail of tea and flapjacks, Tech are the stage crew and epic-thing-making engine of Samhuinn. In the run up to the festival they build fire sculptures and prepare everything to be taken to venue. On the day, they build stages, fire sculptures, and decoration as well as setting up the fencing, crowd barriers and lighting. During the event, they look after the safety of our audience and performers, light the fire sculptures and fire the pyrotechnics. At the end of the night they take it all down again then head to the party!

They’ll be planning a meet-up for interested volunteers soon so please email them at to be kept up to date with this information and get involved.

Photo of Tech at Samhuinn 2015 by Neil Barton

Beltaners! Want to perform at the 2016 Jazz and Blues Fest Carnival?

Jazz and Blues by Bleu Hope

We’re really excited to have been invited to take part in the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Carnival from 2pm-5pm on Sunday 17th July 2016. This is an epic multicultural parade through the centre of town followed by further performances in Princes Street Gardens, all accompanied by a party crowd of thousands!

Drummers, dancers, acrobats, poi and staff spinners, jugglers, fire performers, banner bearers, stilt walkers, puppeteers, costumed lovelies of all kinds, techies, photographers and assistants (have we missed anyone?) from the BFS community are all invited to get involved in organising our part in the event and share ideas to create an unmissable BFS presence. We have a Facebook group up and running, which you’re encouraged to join, and you can also get in touch with intrepid organisers Lila and Erin via jazz[at]beltane[dot]org if you’d like to take part.

This is a wonderful opportunity to create something incredible with your Beltane family between festivals and represent our unique interpretation of Scottish theatrical traditions at a huge cultural event in our home city. We can’t wait to get started!

Photo of BFS volunteers at the 2015 carnival by Bleu Hope

Want to take part in Samhuinn? Join our Stewards!

Stewards at a training session by Dan Mosley

If you still want to take part in Samhuinn 2015, it’s not too late! Our epic squad of volunteer event Stewards are looking for more people to join them for a unique festival experience and the best view of all the action on the night. Perhaps you’ve just arrived in Edinburgh for work or university, or maybe you’re looking for a completely different way to spent Hallowe’en night in the city.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never taken part in a BFS festival before or have no experience as an event steward. You’ll be working with an awesome group of shiny, happy volunteers with the full support of people with many festivals’ stewarding experience under their collective belt. Stewarding is a fantastic way to get involved in Samhuinn, learn new skills and have a night to remember!

The next Stewards training session is at 2pm on Sunday 18th October at the Pavilion Cafe on the Meadows, Edinburgh. You’re welcome to show up on the day or get in touch in advance with Group Organiser Anthony at stewards[at]beltane[dot]org

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 Stewards at a training session by Dan Mosley

Volunteer Event Stewards needed for Samhuinn 2015

Stewards at Beltane 2015 by Martin McCarthy

Our amazing team of volunteer event stewards are looking for people to join them for Samhuinn 2015! This is a great opportunity to take part in this exciting , world-famous festival, even if you don’t have much time to spare. Group Organiser Anthony says…

Stewards will provide a safe environment for performers and audience members by holding performance spaces and giving immediate assistance in the event of injuries or Too Much Fire™. We will liaise with Police, Security, First Aid, Production, Blues, and other Group Organisers to help plan a safe festival for all. We will learn about this year’s performance groups and tell witnesses about what they are part of to increase their involvement and enjoyment.

Stewards are not performers. We will engage with the public as people of this world and not as supernatural creatures. Stewarding is a great first step into BFS and we will help new members make the most of their experience.

The Stewards next meeting is on Sunday 4th October from 2pm-5pm at the Pavilion Cafe on the Meadows, Edinburgh. You’re welcome to show up and take part or you can get in touch with Anthony in advance at stewards[at]beltane[dot]org

Photo of Stewards at Beltane 2015 by Martin McCarthy

Beltane Whites donate to a local food bank

Beltane 2015 Whites donating to the food bank

Louise, one of the Group Organisers of the Whites at Beltane 2015, wrote about her group’s work to support the local community by donating to a food bank…

Sadly the rise of food banks, like those managed by Trussell Trust, and those needing support from them is no longer news to most of us. Hunger is not just a third world problem. Today people across the UK will struggle to feed themselves and their families. Redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for heating during Winter are just some of the reasons why people go hungry.

For some people who are not aware, the Beltane Fire Society is a not for profit charity, however we are much more than just that – we are also a mini community within a community. Being lucky enough to Group Organise (GO) Whites this Beltane, we wanted to be all about the community and connect the other groups to the May Queen. We decided to do this by allocating a White to each group.

Once our group was in place, the possibility of doing a group food bank donation was suggested by the lovely Katie, and in further discussion we decided to open this up to all of the other groups that were participating this year. As we had allocated Whites this was the avenue we used to spread the word. We were very specific that it was an entirely voluntary donation and not something they were expected to do. The generosity that was given by the Beltane members was incredible.

Getting the donations to the food bank was delayed post-Beltane for various reasons, however recently we went along with two of our Whites, John and Hannah, to drop of the donations. We chose the North West Edinburgh food bank partly due to the Beltane Fire Society’s office and stores being located within this area and also because Calton Hill, where Beltane takes place, is also within this area. The volunteers at the food bank were lovely and welcoming, taking the time to explain the process of what would happen with the donated food. They further explained that everyone they help has been referred to them, that they record the personal stories/experiences of those currently in need of assistance and keep accurate figures of those accessing the service in an attempt to keep accurate numbers.

The food banks run on the goodwill and generosity of everyone in a community. Their biggest donation method is by setting up donation sites at various big name supermarkets, in which two thirds of the total number of shoppers will donate. Other donations are supplied from various groups and charity events. Some people prefer to donate financially and others choose to give up their time to volunteer for the food bank.

As Group Organisers, we are incredibly grateful for the Beltane community for their support and generosity in helping us make this idea to help a wider community become a reality.

Thank you, you lovely wonderful people.