Pictures: Beltane Fire Festival sees huge crowds

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THE city skyline sparked to life as thousands of revellers marked the return of summer at the annual Beltane Fire Festival.

Last night’s celebrations saw more than 5000 people descend on Calton Hill to watch as a procession of flames, drums and mystical characters set off from an epic opening sequence on the National Monument, to the lighting of a huge bonfire that could be seen for miles.

Revellers make their way under the arch of flame. Picture: Jane Barlow

Revellers make their way under the arch of flame. Picture: Jane Barlow

New to this year’s festival was a zip-line used by performers for death-defying fire stunts and a 12ft effigy of a wicker witch being set ablaze.

Onlooker Sam McFarlane, 28, from Leith, said she enjoyed her first Beltane Fire Festival.

“So much effort has gone into the costumes and it really is a stunning visual display,” she said.

Keiran Smyth, 26, of Blackhall, said the highlight was the arch of flame being lit up with the May Queen underneath.

“The atmosphere has been fantastic and the skies have been really clear,” he said.

Sara Thomas, event co-ordinator, said: “We’re hugely grateful for the support of everyone who comes to witness Beltane, and for the hard work of everyone involved in putting it on.

“It’s only possible to put something incredible like Beltane on with a massive collective effort.”

The modern Beltane Fire Festival has run since 1988 and is the spring and summer counterpart to Samhuinn Fire Festival held on Hallowe’en.