WHAT: SAMHUINN FIRE FESTIVAL WHERE: CALTON HILL, WATERLOO PLACE, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, EH7 5AB WHEN: THURSDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2019, 7PM-12AM COST: TICKETED EVENT
Like the rest of us this Halloween are knee-deep in vampire capes, witches’ hats and fake blood, there is more than trick or treating happening in Edinburgh and it’s called Samhuinn Fire Festival.
This November, the festival returns to Carlton Hill in Edinburgh, for the first time in several years and the hosts, Beltane Fire Society, has promised that this year’s show will be bigger and better than ever. The festival celebrates the Celtic New Year and is a huge festival to mark the end of the summer and to welcome in the Winter. This unique version of Halloween is one of Edinburgh’s biggest winter festivals, and the stage and setting are on the top of Calton Hill, providing more space and a bigger playground for the hundreds of performers, drummers and most important loads of fire.
As the winter nights become longer, it is believed that this is the time when the veil between this world and the next becomes very thin. As the locals turn to face the Winter, hundreds of unworldly creatures awaken and gather to witness the dramatic standoff of the Summer and Winter kings with the mysterious Callecach ultimately deciding each king’s fate.
Tickets for the event cost £8.80 for adults in advance and £10 on the day, Children £4.40 in advance and £5 on the day, children under 5 years go free.
Please note that all way through the evening there will be loud noises mostly in the form of drumming along with some flashing lights in the form of pyrotechnics and flash photography.
The performers will be in character and mingling amongst the audience throughout the evening. Please also bear in mind that there will be some partial nudity, as a pagan festival, so whilst families are welcome to the event, this should be done at the parent’s discretion. There will be a special family Samhuinn event hosted on Saturday 26th October, a fun-filled afternoon of storytelling and drama games.
Calton Hill involves a sloping ascent and the festival takes place in the dark it is advised to attend with a friend and arrive early as the hilltop can become quite crowded.
Try something different this Halloween, get up close and personal to witness the spectacular struggle between the seasons and the vivid mix of drumming, aerobatics, fire dancing, and vibrant costumes bringing a fiery twist to Halloween night.
WHAT: ST ANDREWS DAY ‘BIG HOOLIE’ CELEBRATIONS WHY: NATIONAL SAINT’S DAY CELEBRATION WHERE: MARKET STREET, ST ANDREWS, FIFE, SCOTLAND WHEN: SATURDAY 30TH NOVEMBER 2019 COST: FREE
The people of Scotland are fiercely patriotic, as evidenced by their National Day celebrations which are held across the Country. St Andrew was considered as Jesus’s first disciple and is not just the Patron Saint of Scotland – he is the Patron saint of Greece, Russia, Amalfi (Italy) and Barbados. St Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross as he didn’t believe he was worthy of being crucified in the same way as Jesus.
The event is packed with activities which last throughout the day including:
Traditional Scottish dance
Pin the kilt to the haggis (only in Scotland 😊)
Traditional music – piped bands, drums, bagpipes
Local talented musicians
Face painting (from previous pictures, I would like to highlight that the majority of kids look like extra’s from Braveheart)
Food and drink concessions including wood fired pizza, local steak strips with chips and deep-fried shortbread (why not indeed!)
Fun fair, rides and attractions
A FANTASTIC FIREWORK FINALE
For the most part, the day is devoted to the culture of Scotland, social causes and of course the celebration of the Patron Saint of Scotland.
If you are visiting Scotland at the end of November, put this in your diary as there will be something happening in every major City and Town.
Scotland has always been synonymous with Hogmanay and there are few Towns and Cities not holding a New Year event of some kind.
The word Hogmanay (prounced hog mah nay) is Scottish for the end of the year and the origins of it are thought to be a mixture of Gaelic and Norman French.
It wasn’t until 1958 that Christmas Day was designated as a public holiday in Scotland and as such, they continued to celebrate the pagan Yuletide including of course the Winter Solstice and Hogmanay.
No New Years Eve event would be complete without a rendition of Auld Lang Syne which today is sung widely in most of the British speaking world and not just for the new year but as a closing song for scouting jamborees and graduation ceremonies. The song itself was originally a poem written by Robert Burns, the 18th century Scottish poet and was set to a tune from a traditional folk song. Auld Lang Syne is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most sung piece in English.
New Year is said to be a time to welcome strangers and friends alike with warmth and love and it allows us to rid ourselves of past differences and move on into a new year.
As a little girl, with great-grandparents who were Scottish, my nanny always followed the ‘old traditions’ as she would describe. My lovely dad used to drive over to my nanny’s just after midnight to ‘first foot’ at her house. He was the quintessential man for the job as a strapping 6 feet plus in height with dark brown eyes and black hair. He used to take a list of things with him: a coin – for good luck, salt – flavour, wood/coal – warmth, whiskey (a miniature) for good cheer (and of course to toast the arrival of the New Year) and an evergreen branch (we were OK with that as mum was a florist) for long life.
Check out some of the events taking place around Scotland this NYE:
Without a doubt one of the best known of all the Hogmanay Events in Scotland with a full list of top-class entertainment, food and refreshments, a Christmas Market, and of course the second biggest firework display in the UK. Whilst the fireworks can be clearly seen from across the City, Hogmanay HQ is the place to be but with tickets at £205.00 – £225.00 it is quite pricey. Prosecco and Canapes are served on arrival at the venue with a full hot and cold buffet for dinner, live music, entertainment, private bars and of course premium seating to watch the spectacular fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at midnight.
Stirling Castle is one of the largest and best-known castles across Scotland. It was the Royal residence to innumerable Kings and Queens over the years as well as being a powerful stronghold, thanks mainly to its position at the top of a hill surrounded by steep cliffs on three of the sides making it almost impenetrable. Most of the castle was built between 1490 – 1600 but there have been some alterations added to the structure as late as the 18th century.
Several Kings and Queens were also crowned at Stirling including Mary Queen of Scots who also had fireworks at her wedding to Henry Stuart – Lord Darnley, and her son, the soon to be infamous King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) who went on to be the King who they tried to kill in the Gunpowder Plot.
This stunning City is Scotland’s third highest in terms of population and once again has a full entertainment package on offer for Hogmanay. The evening will include an ABBA tribute band, street party, bagpipes and fireworks will be launched from His Majesty’s Theatre rooftop in spectacular fashion. There is also the Stonehaven Fireballs ceremony which has been taking place for hundreds of years but records of it only go back to the early part of the twentieth century. Todays ‘swingers’ number around 45 or so and it brings in around 1200 spectators annually. Street entertainment, the lilting sound of the bagpipes and drummers fill the air as the parade of fireball swingers make their way from the Town Hall to the Harbourside before launching their balls into the water. The event is concluded with a firework display at around 12.30pm but rest assured whilst the official merriment is at an end, the people of Stonehaven will keep the party going till the small hours so if you are looking for a close knit affair with that Scottish flavour, why not find somewhere to stay nearby.
INVERNESS – RED HOT HIGHLAND FLING
Celebrations take place at Northern Meeting park with a concert, fireworks and a huge amount of entertainment with award-winning acts (Scottish of course) which will bring something fresh to the event.
MUSSLEBURGH – EAST LOTHIAN
This family-friendly celebration includes traditional Scottish and contemporary arts, live music, singers and storytelling, pantomime, puppeteers and food. They also hold a charming lantern parade which includes hundreds of illuminated lanterns being paraded accompanied by local pipes and drums from 6.30pm before a majestic firework display from around 7.30pm free at the Fisherrow Links.
So, for a traditional and friendly Scottish Hogmanay celebration, get yourself up there and share in some of the magic.