FAQs

Beltane Fire Society is a volunteer-run organisation that puts on two fire festivals each year in Edinburgh’s city centre, Beltane Fire Festival on 30 April and Samhuinn Fire Festival on 31 October. Both events offer a modern interpretation of the original Celtic festivals by celebrating the turning of the seasons with a vivid display of fire, drumming, and acrobatics. 

Beltane Fire Society

Our festivals

Films, Photographs and Research

Beltane Fire Society

Does BFS receive public funds?

No. We are currently entirely self-funded. Fundraising through ticket sales and the collection of charitable donations, at our events and online, enables us to continue to hold our Festivals year after year. BFS pays for the use of Calton Hill for Beltane, including the clean-up afterwards.

I want to set up my own festival. Can I use the BFS name?

As a registered company and charity, we do not license our name to other events, groups or organisations.

Can BFS help me set up my own festival or event?

We’re always happy to hear from like-minded folk from around the world and will do our best to answer any questions. We also welcome new friends from other organisations who wish to take part in our festivals and gain experience to bring to their own events, although we would like to stress that the way we run our festivals is just what WE do, not what EVERYONE should do! As many of our characters and concepts have developed through the creativity and hard work of our volunteers, and while we are happy that people are inspired by that, we do encourage a focus on inspiration and interpretation rather than direct representation of the recognisable aspects of our festivals.

Are all the characters in BFS performances traditional Celtic or Scottish characters?

Some are traditionally Celtic/Scottish (like the Cailleach) and some are represented in traditions across the UK and further afield (like the May Queen and Green Man). While we have a strong focus on keeping the spirit of Scottish street theatre alive and many characters in our festivals are inspired by a combination of local myth, legend and tradition, a number of the recognisable concepts and themes that our performers represent have developed over the years into something quite uniquely BFS – our own traditions!

See also…
About Beltane Fire Society

Our festivals

When do your festivals take place?

Samhuinn takes places on 31st October every year, regardless of what day of the week that date falls on.

Why are Beltane and Samhuinn ticketed events?

Any event with an audience of thousands has a responsibility to provide adequate safety and facilities – which we are required to do by Edinburgh City Council and by law. While we would love our festival to be a free and open one, without any restrictions, we are bound by the necessary requirements of the scale and situation of our events. Provision of facilities for our audience is mostly a cost to the Society, not a commercial benefit. Our events are a victim of their own success – without ticketing and event management we would be unable to coordinate or pay to continue in the way that so many people clearly want us to. You can find more information about what your ticket fee pays for in this blog post from April 2015 and this one from April 2016.

I have mobility issues – can I still attend your festivals?

Yes, everyone is welcome although please be aware that our festivals take place in the dark and the audience tends to be very tightly packed in places. Although the processions are often on a hill, the staged performances usually take place on a flatter area.

We advise getting in touch with us through access[at]beltane[dot]org in advance if you have specific questions about access so we can help with suggested arrival times and places to spectate from.

Films, Photographs and Research

I took photos or shot video of BFS performers at one of your events. Can I share them with you?

We’re always excited to see photos people take at our events and we love sharing them with our members and friends. The best thing to do is upload the photos or video to one of your own online places (like a Facebook album, a page on your website, or your YouTube channel) and then send us a link so that we can share it and any web traffic resulting from it goes directly to you. What we CANNOT do is make use of image files that you send to us. We can’t even archive these for future use as we have no license or contract with you for use of the images and we need to be certain that any photographs we use in our promotional material, online or offline, are photographs that we are legally allowed to use in that manner and have the paperwork to prove this (you saying “I don’t mind what you do with them” is not a legally binding contract!).

I would like BFS members to perform at an event I run/model in my photographs/perform in my film project/be interviewed for my documentary. Is this possible?

If your event or project is of a commercial nature, this absolutely must be represented honestly and openly from the first contact you have with us. Although BFS participants come together for festivals and some performance groups do perform together year-round, we are all volunteers and cannot guarantee to be able to provide performers to do specific things as and when requested throughout the year. We would be happy to let our members know about your event or project and pass on your contact details so that they can get in touch if they are able to take part. Please bear in mind that our volunteers tend to be very busy during the run-up to Samhuinn and Beltane, so may simply not have the time to be involved in anything else during those periods. To talk about BFS representation at your event, please contact secretary[at]beltane.org. As we are a non-profit charity, we ask that any event or project involving the participation of our members make a donation to Beltane Fire Society. Please also note that individuals or groups performing outside of BFS may have their own terms for compensation.

I’m a student and would like to conduct research into BFS for a project. How should I go about this?

Please get in touch with the Board of Trustees via our Board Chair at chair@beltane.org with details of the course you’re on, the institution you’re studying at and the project you’re doing. We may require written evidence of this, especially if you request special access to film or photograph our participants. As BFS is a volunteer-run community organisation, while it may be possible for individual members to take part in interviews in person or by email at their own discretion, it is not realistic to expect this. The best way to find out about our events is to come along and take part in one!