Performers are urged to get vaccinated to help revive Edinburgh's Halloween fire festival

Organisers of Edinburgh’s annual outdoor Halloween celebration have urged hundreds of performers to ensure they are vaccinated ahead of its planned return, warning that future fire festivals will be at risk if it becomes a “super-spreader event”.

Members of the Beltane Fire Society have been warned it could “spell the end” of the organisation unless their members are fully protected when the Samhuinn festivities are staged.

Its board has warned the society is facing "critical challenges" in persuading the authorities and emergency service that its event can go ahead safely.

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Performers and other volunteers involved in staging the event are also being urged to get vaccinated in time to protect other members who are in a “high-risk category”.

The Samhuinn celebration has been staged in Edinburgh on Halloween since 1995. Picture: Cate Gillon
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The society says some of its groups of performers, stewards and crew may choose only to accept vaccinated members in the run-up to the event.

And it has also warned of the possibility that spectators and participants in events llike Samhuinn may have to provide proof of vaccination to take part.

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The Samuinn Fire Festival was relocated from the Old Town to Calton Hill, where the sister Beltane is traditionally staged at the end of April, three years ago due to the growing popularity of the Halloween event, which marks the start of the Celtic New Year.

More than 15 different groups of performers and other volunteers are being recruited for next month’s event.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival is staged to mark the transition from summer to winter in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A message to all members from the society's board states: “We are so excited to be announcing this Samhuinn’s groups, court, and festival plans, and we hope that you’re super excited too.

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“We’re also aware that this upcoming festival will be the first time in a long while that some of you will have met up, and will be restarting your discovery of activities and ways of living that we’d been accustomed to prior to the pandemic.

“We’ve considered the risks and have come up with what we think is a balanced approach to our return, which protects and prioritises the wellbeing of volunteers and community members. And it starts with this plea: PLEASE GET THE VACCINE.

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“Some of our members have not been able to have the vaccine and some members of our society are in a high-risk category, and some of our members are in both camps.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival was moved from the Old Town to Calton Hill three years ago. Picture: Alistair Linford

“Taking the vaccine greatly reduces the risk that you pose to these members of our community (both in reducing the transmission risk and in the event that you do catch the virus —the strength of the viral load is reduced through vaccination)."

The fire society is run by a voluntary board and its events are funded by donations from members and ticket sales .

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The message to members adds: “The society is facing critical challenges at the moment, persuading the local authorities and emergency services that our amazing events will be safe.

“We’re aware that the transient nature of the global Beltane family has been hit hard, and as a result we are predicting lower participation numbers as there have been less opportunities to inspire like-minded souls to join in.

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The Samhuinn Fire Festival is planned to be revived on Halloween after a Covid-enforced cancellation in 2020. Picture: Ian Georgeson

"It’s a difficult time and if we’re seen to be the cause of a transmission super-spreading event, it could spell the end of the organisation.

"Taking the vaccine reduces the chances of our events being super-spreader events.”



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