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Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival

30 April 2023

What’s that coming over Calton Hill? Yes, it’s the annual Beltane Fire Festival, complete with fire, frolics and lashings of body paint (and a lot of cold, cold bodies underneath it).

Celebrating the beginning of the summer season, this unique festival draws inspiration from ancient Gaelic traditions and the age-old Beltane festival, as Edinburgh's populace gets pagan and elemental dancing and dazzling fire displays become the evening's entertainment for the 12,000 plus people in attendance.

Look out for the variety of characters on show too, like the magisterial May Queen and the red men, who give the event a wholly otherworldly feel. It's as if the creatures from Pan's Labyrinth grew sick of Spain and came to Scotland for their holidays, losing clothes and gaining an excitable fearlessness along the way.

Then once their majestic story is played out, a bonfire is lit and the dancing commences, gleefully ensuring a mass celebration of the death of spring and the birth of summer. Just don't wear anything flammable.

Official website: beltane.org