Fire sparkles fly as artist perform in front of the spectators at Beltane Fire Show at night

Beltane Fire Festival final fire performance, part 3


The Beltane Fire Festival ignites the skies of Edinburgh with a blaze of traditions and performances.

fire artist juggling the fire stick called fire staff
Fire staff – excellent choice for the fire show at night
Fire flames rising from fire poles raised by the performers
Fire show at night at Beltane Fire Festival

Photo story The Beltane Fire Festival, part 3 – Fire Show

The Beltane fire celebration is a modern incarnation of an ancient Celtic festival, celebrated on the night of April 30th, is a spectacle of fire, drumming, and pageantry that honors the coming of summer. The fire show follows the opening ceremony and the procession by May Queen and Green Man.

Volunteer doing tricks with fire knives at Beltane fire show
Twirling fire knives in the darkness
Huge fire staff with flames at night
Huge flames from the large fire staff ignite the night at Beltane Fire Festival

Visitors start arriving around 6:30-7 pm on April 30th to secure the best viewing spots and enjoy the interaction with the volunteers before the show. Beltane fire festival opening ceremony begins around 8 pm when it gets dark enough. This is followed by the procession of May Queen and Green Man. The main fire show begins about an hour later, somewhere close to 9-10 pm.

The performers are adorned with elaborate costumes and body paint, many in Polynesian style. Fire artists engage in various fire arts, including fire poi, fire knives, fire meteors, fire fans, and hoops. These elements are not just for show; they are deeply rooted in the festival’s symbolism. Fire poi swirls in the darkness, representing the sun’s energy. Fire knives cut through the night, symbolizing the power to drive away harmful influences. Fire meteors, with their long, trailing flames, evoke the shooting stars of spring nights. Fire fans spread warmth and light, embodying the spreading of the new season’s potential. The hoops circled in flames remind us of the cyclical nature of the seasons and the continuity of life.

Performer with fire fans at Beltane Fire Festival
Fire fans are cool to watch during performance in total darkness
fire dancer with Polynesian make up and fire knife
Fire knives tricks at night and fire artist with traditional Polynesian make up

Today’s Beltane Fire Festival is a theatrical representation of these rituals, drawing on a variety of historical, mythological, and literary influences. The event is managed by the Beltane Fire Society, a community arts performance charity, and involves over 300 volunteers who collaborate to create an immersive experience for the thousands of spectators who gather on Calton Hill.

The festival, held annually since 1988, vividly reimagines the Gaelic May Day holiday. Historically, Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when livestock were driven to their summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops, and people and to encourage growth. The fires, central to the festivities, were believed to have protective powers, and people would walk between them or leap over them.

Artists with black painted skin are manipulating fire props
Flames from the fire and barely visible artists due to skin painted black
Beltane Fire Festival - artists twirling fire sticks
Fire staff twirling creates amazing visual effects at night

The Beltane Fire Festival is more than just a show; it is a communal expression of the joy and vitality of life. It connects us to our ancestors and the natural world, reminding us of the enduring cycles that govern all life. As the flames leap into the night sky, they invite us to celebrate the warmth and promise of the coming summer. For those interested in experiencing this unique event, it is advisable to book tickets early, as they often sell out. Comfortable shoes are a must as you will be standing and walking a lot on uneven terrain. Warm clothing is recommended, as the festival takes place outdoors. For those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the festivities, participating in the workshops offered by the Beltane Fire Society can be a rewarding way to engage with this vibrant community and its traditions.

The Beltane Fire Festival is a testament to the power of community and tradition to create something truly magical. It is a night where fire and performance meet history and culture, igniting the imagination and warming the heart. As the Beltane fires burn bright, they beckon us to join in the celebration of life and the warmth of summer.

Crowd watching fire poi perfromance
Fire Poi – a ball of fire on a chain being twirled around
Skin painted black artist twirls fire staff
Volunteers perform fire tricks with a double lit fire pole

What: Beltane Fire Festival             Where: Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland                                          When: April 30, yearly, dusk – dawn

Edinburgh celtic Beltane fire celebration fire show
Fire performance at Beltane Fire Show in Edinburgh
Long trace of fire from a fire meteor on a long chain being swung around
Large fire ball – also known as fire meteor creates magic fire track at night
Spinning fire hoop at night to the beat of the drums
Fire hoop visual effects at night
People watching final moments of Beltane Fire Show at Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Crowd at Calton Hill, Edinburgh during Beltane Fire Festival and view of the Princess Street

   20.04.2024  by FPImages


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