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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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And there were a lot of things on fire.

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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!

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The first thing I’d like to point out is that it was sunny and lovely during my visit to Edinburgh. In fact, I almost had to buy sunscreen!! I love this city!

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From its prehistoric roots as a hillfort, following periods of Celtic and Germanic influence, Edinburgh became part of the Kingdom of Scotland during the 10th century. It continued to develop as a market town and is still the capitol of Scotland and Edinburgh the second most popular tourist destination in the UK after London.

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The Old Town consists of a long main road called the Royal Mile, with Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace (where the Queen stays when in town) at the other. The doors to Holyrood were closed but spectacular!

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The Old Town is divided from the New Town (18th century) by the Princes Street Gardens. We wandered though the gardens and sat for awhile enjoying the sunshine and watching the flowers, animals and people.

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I even made it down to the beach.

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Of course, the real purpose of the trip was to attend the Beltaine Fire Festival which requires its own post …

Unstitched

I lost my mittens on Calton Hill
Twas Beltaine night and I thought it’d be chill
But the fire burned hot so I stripped down nude
And my poor little mittens had nothing to do

Neglected and sad they wandered off
And were banished away with the cold winter’s frost
Hand-knitted and warm, a gift from a friend
Sacrificed to the Spring, cast off at the end.

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