Edinburgh Samhuinn Fire Festival

Where: Edinburgh, Royal Mile
When: 31st October
Time: 9pm to 11pm


Copyright Mark Taylor for Beltane Fire Society All Rights Reserved www.beltane.org / facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

Copyright Mark Taylor for Beltane Fire Society
All Rights Reserved
www.beltane.org / facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

The ancient Celtic festival  Samhuinn (or Samhain) is enthusiastically celebrated every year in Scotland’s capital city, in the atmospheric Old Town. Samhain evolved over time into the modern Hallowe’en and shares the same date, marking the turning of the year and the longer nights. I quote here from the event information kindly provided by the organisers: “At Samhuinn, the veil between the worlds draws thin and the spirits gather close to bear witness as the courts of Summer and Winter battle for control of the seasons. In her wild ecstasy of grief and sorrow, the Cailleach ushers the last breath of Summer’s opulent decadence into the beyond to make way for the icy storms of Winter’s dark reign.The story follows the ideas of the overthrowing of Summer by Winter, with a stand-off between the Summer and Winter Kings. This is overseen by the Cailleach, a Celtic representation of the Goddess, or Divine Hag. The transformation from Summer to Winter is supported by the energies and interactions of the Summer and Winter courts – through performance, music and dance. The narrative focuses on this conflict and its resolution, but also focuses on the transition that many aspects of life take during the changing of the seasons.”  The festival has been running for twenty years and has now moved to a more central location in the heart of the city. There’s also a Family Samhuinn earlier in the day or at the weekend for younger visitors.Expect fire, dancing, drumming, drama and more.

Helpful Hints

This is a free-of-charge unticketed event, though donations are welcome. It’s organised by the same team as the Edinburgh Beltane festival (follow link below for their own website) which marks the opposite turn of the year in spring (see separate article). Wrap up well and maybe take a torch! When we went in 2016 it poured all evening, which did nothing to reduce the enthusiasm of the participants, though it washed off much of their body paint and stopped me taking as many pictures as I would have done otherwise! It also muffled the sound at the end of the video, but it still gives a good idea of what to expect.

From the organisers: Edinburgh’s Samhuinn Fire Festival returns to the Royal Mile this
Hallowe’en.This 31 October, Edinburgh’s cobbled Royal Mile will once again host the country’s most spectacular Hallowe’en night event. The Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter.The event, starting at 9pm, takes the form of a stunning torchlit performance along the Royal Mile to West Parliament Square, with wild drumming, acrobatics, fire-dancing, intricate costumes and battles between the forces of summer and winter.Erin McElhinney, Co-Festival Secretary for the Beltane Fire Society said:“The Samhuinn Fire Festival is one of the most atmospheric events held in Edinburgh each year. Our volunteers stage a modern re-imagining of an ancient Celtic festival that marked the end of the final harvests, and the beginning of the leaner, harder winter period. It plays out in Edinburgh’s old town, with an audience of thousands, and this year we’re delighted to be returning to our usual start time of 9pm and our traditional home, the Royal Mile and West Parliament Square.“Those who come to witness the festival can expect a spectacle unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Dozens of characters in intricate costumes will appear from the side streets of Edinburgh’s old town, bringing drums and fire to create an eerie, epic (and to be frank slightly mad) performance, enacting stories of the changing seasons. Otherworldly figures will process by torch-light along the cobbled streets, drumming, dancing with fire, clowning and performing. The kings of summer and winter and their courts will face off in a final battle to decide whether summer will continue or if winter will set in; all will be overseen by the traditional mysterious Celtic crone figure, the Cailleach.“It’s a truly unique event, harking back to a traditional celebration that is centuries old. It takes place right in the heart of Scotland’s most beautiful city, and what’s more, you don’t need a ticket; all we ask is that you donate what you can to our bucketeers on the night, so we can continue staging these wonderful events.”The event will be on Hallowe’en night (31 October) from 9pm until 11pm on the Royal Mile.No tickets are required, attendance is by donation. The event is organised by the Beltane Fire Society, a charity run by volunteers, dedicated to marking the fire festivals of the ancient celtic calendar and keeping traditional Scottish skills of street theatre, music and pageantry alive.Samhuinn Fire Festival is a modern re-imagining of an ancient celtic festival marking the end of summer and rise of winter. The modern event has been held in Edinburgh since 1995. Its spring and summer counterpart, Beltane, takes place on Calton Hill on the last day of April each year, and has been running since

Click here for the event website: http://beltane.org

and here for the Facebook page: http://facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

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