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Beltane Fire Festival: Raving the night away in celebration of May Day and the start of summer

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Bonfires, blazing torches, body-painted dancers, drummers, jugglers, musicians, fire-eaters, ancient Celtic rituals and a spectacular backdrop.

No, it’s not a scene from cult film The Wicker Man.

It’s what you can expect at the annual Beltane Fire Festival taking place in Edinburgh capital this week.

Beltane is held each year on the last day of April, continuing overnight into May Day, to mark the arrival of summer and celebrate new life and fertility.

The event, which first began in 1988 as a protest against rave laws and a way to reclaim green spaces, includes modern interpretations of rituals and customs with roots dating back to the Iron Age. And fire. Lots of fire.

The May Queen, as her name implies, presides over the show, guiding a procession of drummers and performers around the city’s landmark Calton Hill and acting out healing rites.

During her journey she interacts with the Green Man in ceremonies symbolising the birth of summer.