Performers take part in the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh.Performers take part in the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh.
Performers take part in the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh.

Beltane Pictures: 11 images capture Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival celebrations on Mayday

Edinburgh's night sky burned bright to mark the coming of Mayday and summer as hundreds of performers gathered for the return of the Beltane, the largest celebration of its kind in the world.

The Beltane Fire Festival is a Celtic celebration of fire, new life and purity which marks the end of the darker seasons and the arrival of summer on Mayday.

The event brought together 250 performers, making it the largest celebration of its kind anywhere on the world, over the weekend.

Volunteers and spectators gathered atop the Capital's Calton Hill to enjoy the festivities against a dramatic cityscape backdrop.

The event marked the return of Beltane for the first time since 2019 - the annual event repeatedly postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Calton Hill blazed with flaming torches, fire sculptures and a bonfire which lit up the National Monument. All the flames were, in a historic Beltane manner, lit by the tradition of neid-fire, a sacred flame started by friction alone.

Ahead of the celebration, Rosa Mackay, who took on the role of the May Queen and female figurehead of the night, said the return of the celebration and thousands of revellers felt “joyous”.

Ms Mackay said: “Beltane is a celebration of the coming of summer and this year we are also seeing this transition out of this intense time of isolation. It’s a joyous time.”

This year, the May Queen’s white and earth-tone costume was embroidered with hands, symbolising numerous themes affect women today and through history.

They represented the ‘grabbing’ of reproductive rights and the persecution of women accused of witchcraft throughout Scottish history.

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