Beltane Fire Festival 2019: Prices, times and roots of historic Edinburgh spectacle

Every year Calton Hill is taken over by fire, drums and storytelling for the Beltane Fire Festival.

By Conor Matchett
Monday, 29th April 2019, 3:23 pm
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 4:05 pm
Performers take part in the annual Beltane Fire Festival (Photo: Getty Images)

Taking place annually on the 30 April, it is a striking and fiery display which brings alive traditions of old, with the roots of the festival dating back as far as the Iron Age.

What time does it start and what can I bring?

The event will begin at around 8pm on Tuesday 30 April, and will finish around 1am.

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There are strictly no glass bottles allowed at the festival, and under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

The festival also asks for no fire toys or fireworks to be brought to Calton Hill, and also does not allow barbecues or dogs.

They also advise parents and guardians that the festival contains semi-nudity.

Where can I get tickets?

You can buy tickets, which regularly sell out, on the Beltane Fire Festival website.

Adult tickets cost £11 before the festival, but will cost £15 if you purchase on the day. Tickets for children are £5.50, and no refunds can be given.

What is the Beltane Fire Festival?

The festival is a modern re-telling of an ancient ritual surrounding the transition from winter into summer.

Many Celtic cultures across Scotland and the UK celebrated Beltane which saw members of communities come together to celebrate the return of the summer.

This would be of huge importance to ancient cultures as Beltane would signal the land becoming fertile again.

The Beltane Fire Festival website states, “The word ‘Beltane’ roughly translates as ‘bright fire’ and, as such, one of the most important rituals, which survives today in our modern festival, concerns the lighting of the Beltane bonfire.”

Fire would have been walked around and danced or jumped over by people who saw it as a purifier and a healer.

The festival today follows the story of the May Queen and the Green Man, who light the bonfire together to symbolise the beginning of summer.