Painted people, drumming and a lot of things on fire!!

Well, what can I say. It was Edinburgh on Beltane Night (April 30th) and it was the Fire Festival! Hard to take pics cause it was night and a lot of people and a lot of fire spinning.  I know we didn’t see everything that happened (did I mention all the people?) and I know I didn’t understand all of what was going on (blue people, red people, drumming) so here is just a glimpse.


Oh, and it involved fire performance, uninhibited behaviour and semi-nudity. Woop woop!


Wearing our appropriate clothing and footwear, and leaving our flying lanterns a the hotel, we headed up Calton Hill and joined the sea of people.


Getting to the top, there were some amazing fire figures.




There was a May Queen (in white and red) with her attendants, lots of painted red drummers and fire spinners, some blue people (the Picts?), a troupe of death people in black and white and a green man with attendants carrying banners inscribed with the Celtic ogham for ivy.  At the big finale, the May Queen kills the shaggy Green Man, he is stripped of his, uh, foliage, and she brings him back to life. Newly sprung, he dances an amazing energetic dance and they kiss. Then, they lit the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen.




And there were a lot of things on fire.




The best place to see some really amazing photos is on the Beltane Fire Festival Flickr site (seriously, check it out). Other than that, I highly recommend going and experiencing it for yourself! In the meantime, here is one minute of the festival, just to whet your appetite!

3 thoughts on “Painted people, drumming and a lot of things on fire!!

  1. The Beltane Fire Society definitely has it’s own mythos with the red men, blue men, and white women (which as you know, any of the above may be played by men OR women). I can’t wait to go back – glad you enjoyed!

    • I did think about doing a bunch of pre-reading about the mythos or doing more research for the blog post. But, I wanted to just experience it. So, the blog post is an accurate reflection of the kinda disjointed, my-slice-only experience! I would like to read more about the “death troupe” people as they struck me as very voodoo. But, I’ve since seen them in pics of other UK folk traditions. And, agree, would totally LOVE to go back!!

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