May Queen spreading her arms under the flames at the very start of the festival

The Beltane Fire Festival opening ceremony, part 2


Beltane Fire Festival continues with the opening ceremony at the National Monument of Scotland stage with the participation of the May Queen and her group.

Opening ceremony with May Queen at National Monument of Scotland stage
May Queen at the central stage of the National Monument of Scotland opening the Beltane Fire Festival
May Queen faces the crowd and welcomes the summer

Photo story The Beltane Fire Festival, part 2

The Beltane Fire Festival: A Dance of Flames and Fertility

Procession of May Queen and Green man moves between the spectators
May Queen and Green Man make their way in a counter-clockwise direction after the opening ceremony

At the heart of the festival is the May Queen, a symbol of purity and the embodiment of the Earth’s fertility. Adorned in white, she leads her followers in a mesmerizing dance, her presence a beacon of the life that spring promises. Accompanying her is the Green Man, a representation of nature’s rebirth, who undergoes a dramatic transformation from winter’s old sage to the vibrant spirit of summer.

May Queen and Green Man lead the procession followed by the characters with torches
Beltane Fire Festival procession moving slowly by the visitors

The procession is a kaleidoscope of characters, each playing a role in the symbolic narrative of death and rebirth. The White Women, guardians of the May Queen, and the Blue Men guides through the elemental journey are just a few of the figures that add to the rich tapestry of the festival. The relentless rhythm of the drummers propels the procession forward, their beats echoing the heartbeat of the Earth, awakening from its slumber.

Spectators watching and taking pictures of the May Queen march at Beltane Fire Festival
Blue men with green branches clear the way for May Queen and Green Man and their characters
Green man follows May Queen at Beltane Fire Festival
Green Man and May Queen greet the visitors and celebrate the cycle of nature

As the night unfolds, the air is filled with the scent of burning torches and the warmth of the bonfires, which are lit to purify and protect. The neid fire, a need-fire kindled from friction, is a central element, symbolizing the light that breaks the hold of darkness. The May Queen and the Green Man lead their followers through a ritual that culminates in the lighting of the main bonfire, a powerful moment that declares the official start of summer.

The Beltane Fire Festival is more than just a celebration; it’s a communal expression of hope, a collective wish for a bountiful season. It’s a place where the boundaries between the mundane and the magical blur, where the flames of the past ignite the dreams of the future. For one night, Calton Hill becomes a portal to another world, a world where fire dances in the sky and the May Queen reigns supreme.

May Queen profile
Profile Portrait of May Queen
May Queen and Green Man symbolize the start of the summer in this ancient Celtic ritual

For those who have witnessed the Beltane Fire Festival, it’s an unforgettable experience, a testament to humanity’s enduring connection to nature and the cycles that govern life. It’s a reminder that, no matter how much the world changes, there’s magic in the turn of the seasons, in the fire that cleanses and the life that blossoms.

So, if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh at the end of April, let the drums guide you to Calton Hill. Join the revelry, feel the heat of the flames, and celebrate the ancient traditions that continue to thrive in the heart of Scotland.

Man with a torch in a black cape at the Beltane fire ritual, Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Portrait of a torch bearer at Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane Fire Festival drummers in black and green
Drummers dressed in green and black and all bodies painted black

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

National Monument of Scotland looks grand and provides amazing backdrop for the fire show stage
The stage is set for an intense fire show near the National Monument of Scotland
May Queen dancing under the metal arch
May Queen performing the dance in darkness in preparation for the grand fire show


May Queen faces the flames
First torches are lit just before the grand fire performance
Visitors watching fireworks and fire performance
Fireworks and other flames light up the skies

   16.04.2024  by FPImages


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