Beltane festival proves to be city’s hottest ticket

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THOUSANDS of spectators turned out to mark the start of the summer at the 25th Beltane festival last night.

Spectacular fire sculptures wowed the crowds at Calton Hill, as 300 performers did more than enough to warm the chilly audience.

Performers at the Beltane ritual

Performers at the Beltane ritual

The number of fire sculptures and installations was increased from previous years to mark the quarter century.

Festivities got under way at 8.30pm and went on until around midnight.

The thousands in attendance witnessed the arrival of the May Queen and the ritual killing of the Green Man, as well as the traditional procession around the hill.

The masses were led off the hill to the beat of the Beltane drums after the night’s finale which saw the fire performers and Red Men join forces for a spectacular performance.

Matthew Richardson, chair of the Beltane Fire Society, said: “It’s amazing how the festival has grown in size and stature since its inception in 1988.”

After Margaret Thatcher’s government introduced restrictions on the right to gather, the festival sprung up as a word-of-mouth protest. Since then, it has become one of the Capital’s best-established annual events.

Some of those who were at the event took to Twitter to share their experience.

Anna Frame posted a picture of torch bearers and tweeted: “Accidentally ended up at Beltane, on Calton Hill. Pretty impressive . . .”