Thousands flock to Samhuinn Fire Festival

Picture: Raini Scott for Beltane Fire Society.
Picture: Raini Scott for Beltane Fire Society.
5
Have your say

THOUSANDS gathered in the Grassmarket on Hallowe’en as the spectacular Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in its new home.

The annual pageant, a modern re-imagining of an ancient pagan ritual, began earlier than usual to make it more family friendly.

Picture: Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society

Picture: Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society

And the move paid off, as huge crowds flocked to watch the procession

The fire festival – heralding the death of summer and the birth of winter – brought a host of volunteer performers with fire, drums and wild costumes to the Old Town for an evening of revelry.

A torchlit procession headed down Candlemaker Row and featured three stages, two drum crews, acrobatics, ancient Celtic tradition, pyrotechnics and plenty of fire.

The extravaganza then culminated in an epic fight for supremacy between the reigning Summer King and the harsh Prince of Winter.

Dan Mosley for Beltane Fire Society.

Dan Mosley for Beltane Fire Society.

The Beltane Fire Society, a charity run by volunteers, is dedicated to marking the fire festivals of the ancient Celtic calendar and keeping traditional Scottish skills of street theatre, music and pageantry alive. The modern event has been held in Edinburgh since 1995.

Beltane, the festival which welcomes the return of summer, takes place on Calton Hill on the last day of April, and has been running since 1988.

The winter version was moved to the Grassmarket after last year’s unexpectedly big crowds forced the unplanned closure of Market Street.

Saturday’s earlier start time was also designed to co-ordinate with Family Samhuinn earlier in the day, making it easier for anyone with children to attend.