In pictures: Samhuinn fire festival blazes down Royal Mile

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Revellers turned out in force last night to celebrate the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer with the city’s annual Samhuinn festival.

The rousing beat of drums encouraged the crowds lining the High Street for the 22nd pageant, which heralds the death of summer and the birth of winter.

Pictures: Ian Georgeson

Pictures: Ian Georgeson

And the chilly winter night did little to deter the host of volunteer performers who enthusiastically entertained with fire, drums and wild costumes during the evening of revelry. Many joined in the torchlit procession led by a wild mix of groups performing mystical fire-dancing and physical theatre to mark the changing seasons.

Groups who took part in the procession, which started at West Parliament Square, included Cailleachan dancers, the Ignis Drummers, Guth Nam Marbh (Voice of the Dead), a Gaelic singing group, Obsidian, an acrobatic fire group and Reds, “elemental creatures of chaos, misrule, fun and excess”.

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

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 Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The modern event has been held in Edinburgh since 1995.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson