After a successful event in 2015, Family Beltane returns this year for a day full of arts and crafts, storytelling and theatre. The event is an extension of the Beltane Fire Festival, a yearly ancient Celtic celebration that takes place on Calton Hill. The Family Beltane event lets the kids in on the fun of the festival whilst learning about the ancient customs and traditions behind Beltane. The event is free and non-ticketed so families can join at anytime throughout the afternoon. Just head along to the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh from 1.30pm on Saturday 23rd April, for a fantastic introduction to the skills and traditions used during the creative preparations behind the Beltane Fire Festival.

We asked Family Beltane Co-ordinator, Cat Sommerville, to tell us more about the festival and why it’s a great event for children.

I first began to think about devising a family friendly celebration of Beltane at the time the Beltane Fire Festival became more of a theatrical spectacle rather than a hilltop party.  

In the early years the hill was alive for days following the 30th of April, with families and gatherings of people camping out to enjoy not just the show but the participation. 

I didn’t want the event to become exclusive to footloose and fancy free revelers and performers, but to be a festival of community inclusion.

Children love the story of the earth blossoming into colour, light, warmth and new life. They enjoy exploring the games, storytelling, movement and theatre, dance and face painting which is in keeping with the adult version of the event. We aim to instill the good feeling and the spirit of the ancient festival into others. We want to pass on our modern day physical theatre-style take on thanksgiving for the elements (earth, air, fire and water) woven into the story of the marriage of the sun to the earth. The children can dress up and hear the stories of the May Queen and her handmaidens, the wild Reds and their clownish energy, and of course of the May Queen’s special companion, the Green Man. Family Beltane allows for a unique opportunity for parents to celebrate with their children, and all are warmly welcome at our annual free event.” 

FINAL Family beltane 2016-FOR-WEBPlease note, this event is not suitable for children under the age of 5 and all children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please visit the Beltane Fire Festival webpage here.

Coming to Edinburgh for Family Beltane? Our luxury serviced apartments Old Town Chambers and the Merchiston Residence are a great base from which to explore the city.