In pictures: Beltane Fire Festival lights up Calton Hill

The May Queen is the central character during the Beltane Fire Festival
The May Queen is the central character during the Beltane Fire Festival
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Thousands of revellers gathered for the biggest Beltane Fire Festival since the event was established almost 30 years ago.

Saturday’s spectacle saw Calton Hill blaze to life and echo to the sound of drumbeats, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Beltane Fire Society performers celebrate the coming of summer.

Beltane Fire Society performers celebrate the coming of summer.

It was expected that, because the event fell on a Saturday, crowds would exceed last year’s 7500 attendance figure.

Highlights this year included the mischievous Reds performing acrobatics on a decorated tower near the Dugald Stewart Monument.

The evening also saw performance groups bear flames around the hill, waving blazing wands and shooting jets of fire into the air.

Posting on Twitter, one visitor said: “Awesome night had. Beltane is here again and the summer has returned.

“Thanks for a great night.”

The ancient drama – which ran from 8pm to 1am – centres on a “magical procession” which sets off around Calton Hill led by the May Queen and her court.

They encounter many fantastical characters in the form of painted and costumed performers and acrobats.

The Green Man is “killed” by the May Queen, stripped of his winter guise and resurrected in a dramatic ritual performance, before the lighting of the traditional Beltane bonfire to welcome summer.

This year the May Queen wore a dress crafted by professional theatre and costume

designer Mona Kastell.

The event was put together by a cast of more than 300 dedicated volunteers who gave around 30,0000 hours of rehearsal preparation.