Beltane Fire Festival to donate to eco charities under drive to offset impact of event on the planet

Organisers of Edinburgh’s world famous Beltane Fire Festival have revealed they are to try to offset the environmental impact of the event by supporting tree-planing, wildlife and marine conservation charities.

The Beltane Fire Festival is held on the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh on the last night of April each year. Picture: Nathan Goodfriend.

Around £1000 is expected to be shared between several groups as part of a drive by the event to raise awareness of the climate crisis and reduce its carbon footprint.

Five per cent from the sale of every ticket for the 8000-capacity festival, which is staged on top of Calton Hill on the last night of April, will also be going to environmental charities.

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The move have been revealed after last year’s event saw the festival ramping up its green message with a dramatic change in the costume and performance of the pivotal May Queen character, who has been portrayed by Katie O’Neill in recent years, to reflect her fury at the damage being done to the planet.

Performers were urged to use recycled materials to make their costumes, while the event used e-tickets for the first time to further reduce its impact on the environment.

A spokeswoman for the Beltane Fire Society, which has staged the annual event since 1998, said: “Following on from last year’s eco-themed festival, where the May Queen departed from her usual stoic character to express rage at the damage done to our planet, some elements of this year’s festival will continue to look at the global climate crisis.

“This year will be the last that Katie O’Neill embodies the summer goddess, and her performance, which will be developed over the next couple of months, will move from anger to an aspirational note about what positive climate action can achieve.

“The society has pledged £1,000 to green charities from the proceeds generated by the next festival, on top of five from each ticket sale to fund tree planting initiatives.

“The society will also continue to look at making its own practices sustainable, with festival performers being encouraged to recycle materials for costumes and props where possible.”

The festival has joined forces with the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful in recent months to work on ways of creating a “green fire festival” by exploring what more than 300 volunteers who work on the event can do individually and what the fire society as can do to support the work of other charities.

The festival's official website states: “We take great joy each year in celebrating the turn of the seasons and the changes we see in the natural world.

“It’s a chance to take stock of our connection with the environment, to remember the myths and stories it has inspired, and to really reflect on the nourishment that it provides us with.

“Even in our hyper-fast and increasingly digital world, our lives are still at root ruled by the sun, the rain, and the land we walk on.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to turn our words into action. We are living through a climate emergency, and it will require all of us to pitch in and take better care of our world.”