City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Beltane Fire Festival

By edg - Posted on 07 January 2018

Beltane Fire Festival procession
Event details
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 8:00pm - Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 1:30am
Calton Hill

On the last night of April and first day of May up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for a ritualised and theatrical pantheistic celebration to mark the arrival of Summer. The event combines a wild mix of fire, drumming, and pagan performance.

This revival of the ancient Celtic fertility festival of Beltane started as a free event in 1988 and continues to be very popular, in spite of increasing crowd-control measures and a rising ticket price. The event, which features hordes of otherworldly creatures such as Beastie Drummers and Red Men, includes some nudity and "uninhibited behaviour".

Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields. In Edinburgh's revivalist celebration of Beltane, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Society celebrate the ending of the dreich Scottish winter and the (hoped-for) season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around Calton hill.

Behind the fiery displays, acrobatics, pulsating drums, and body-painted theatrics, the Beltane Fire Festival Society retell an immersive story for the assembled throng.

Beltane Tickets (TBC for 2019)

This is a popular event - organisers recommend buying tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

Beltane tickets can be bought online at Tickets Scotland.
Advance tickets £9 (plus £1 booking fee) until 30th April
On the gate £13 (no booking fee)
Children* (2-16 years old) £4.50
Children* (under 2 years old) are free.

Entrance to Calton Hill by Waterloo Place. Gates open at 8pm. Show starts at sundown.

* Families with children are welcome at parents’ discretion. Many of the spectacles are performed with little clothing, and a great deal of enthusiasm: it's up to you to decide what's appropriate for the younger members of your family. All children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult and have their own separate ticket.