Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh

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Beltane Fire Festival

Beltane Fire Festival is an annual participatory arts event and ritual drama, held on 30 April on Calton Hill (map) in Edinburgh.

While the festival draws on a variety of historical, mythological and literary influences, the organisers do not claim it to be anything other than a modern celebration of Beltane, evolving with its participants.

The current Beltane was started in 1988 by a small group of enthusiasts including Angus Farquhar of the musical collective Test Dept., and dancers from Laban, as well as academics from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Originally an event with a core of a dozen performers and a few hundred audience, the event has grown to several hundred performers and over ten thousand audience.

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The modern Beltane Fire Festival is inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane which began on the evening before 1 May and marked the beginning of summer.

Calton Hill is a hill in central Edinburgh situated beyond the east end of Princes Street and included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Views of, and from, the hill are often used in photographs and paintings of the city.

Calton Hill is the venue for a number of events throughout the year. The largest of these is the Beltane Fire Festival held on 30 April each year, attended by over 12,000 people.

The hill is also the location of several monuments and buildings: the National Monument (map), the Nelson Monument (map), the *Dugald Stewart Monument (map), the old Royal High School (map), the Robert Burns Monument (map), and the *City Observatory (map).


Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. Old volcanoes ensure a dramatic natural setting, with the imposing castle atop one. Beneath its guard, the city combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (map) were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995.

Walking should always be your first choice within central Edinburgh. The centre is compact – most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town (mainly around the Castle and Royal Mile) and New Town, and are at most 15 min walk apart.

Public transport

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 BUS >   Lothian BusesFirst Group – buses around the city and suburbs. National Express | UK Stop finder – the largest intercity bus operator in the UK.

 RAIL >   National Rail – information about all trains, routes and stations. Train – Planning trip – train travel planner for all UK operators >> (*Rail travel in Great Britain)

 AIRPORTS >   Edinburgh Airport – from / to the airport > Airlink100. Information about all airports in the country – The most important airports are London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester Airport.

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