What to Expect at Samhuinn

Those of you who have been attending our Winter festival for a while will remember it as a procession that moved through the streets of Edinburgh, but things are a little different now. Because our festival has grown in popularity – drawing thousands from Edinburgh and across the world to see it – in 2018 we moved to our spiritual home on Calton Hill, where Samhuinn’s sister event Beltane Fire Festival was first founded.

In 2020, our Samhuinn Fire Festival was digital and took place over Facebook Live and YouTube. Watch Hearth Fire (Digital Samhuinn Fire Festival) here on our website. 

Samhuinn Fire Festival’s new venue means that we are a little more experimental with its format, and so far no two festivals have looked the same. In its first year on Calton Hill, Winter and Summer’s opposing forces appeared as two processions that made their way towards an epic clash in the centre of the festival. Our Winter goddess, the Cailleach, led a third procession the following year, with the three groups meeting on a stage that overlooked the back of the Acropolis.

Copyright Scott A. Winchester for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. http://www.beltane.org / http://www.facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

Like Beltane, Samhuinn Fire Festival is now an immersive event where you can get up close to the action and mingle with some of the characters. Because of the multiple processions, our witnesses can also affiliate themselves with Winter, Summer, the Cailleach, or all three, and choose their own path throughout the night.

How To Watch

Some intrepid souls do try to follow the processions as they make their way around the Hill, but things 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.

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.

Featured image by Vince Graham for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.