Beltane Fire Festival Today April 30,2016

 Today at  April 30th you could be forgiven for thinking you had taken a step back in time – by a good couple of centuries, at least – because this is the night when tens of thousands of onlookers make their way to the top of iconic Calton Hill to welcome in the new harvest.The festival begins with a procession, which starts at the National Monument and proceeds anti-clockwise around the path meeting various groups along the way. The procession is driven by the beat of drums which urge it inexorably towards summer. In years gone by, the changing of the seasons was welcomed in with a celebration that involved Pagan rituals designed to promote a warm and prosperous summer. Beltane, meaning ‘bright light’, used fire to represent the burning sun and took place on the last evening before May 1st. A mainly Celtic festival, it died out in the late 1800s but was reinvented in Edinburgh by researchers from the city’s main university. In its infancy it attracted a group of 200 spectators, but now, over a quarter of a century on, the new and modern version of the celebration sees supporters ascend Calton Hill in their droves to watch over 300 performers use music, light shows and the ever-popular fire displays to keep the history of the Beltane Fire Festival alive.

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