So we recently travelled up to Scotland for the pagan winter solstice festival. What a great city, area, festival and all around trip. We left the IOW Wednesday morning catching the 8am ferry from East Cowes across to Southhampton, from there we bussed to the mall for coffee and breakfast. While there I had a look at a new phone as my old one has died, no purchase there though. At around 10:30 we walked to the airport taking about 35 minutes with our packs on, now substantially lighter. Checked our luggage in, and started through customs, I breezed through. Courtney, however, did not … after a huge red flashing light and a buzzer blaring, her bag got diverted down the inspection line.
I guessed it would not be serious so I repacked and just laughed (such a supporting partner.) Turns out it was the clip-together-camping cutlery set, but only the knife, not that you could even cut a carrot with it. Fortunately, Courtney was allowed back through security to post it back to the IOW. Getting through customs finally, we wandered through duty-free and waited for our flight to depart. flew out at 12:30 heading for Edinburgh Scotland.
Upon arriving in Scotland we breezed through the non-existent domestic security and walked out into the very cool Scottish air, roughly about 9*c so quite chilly. From there we caught our first tram into the city centre. First impressions, what an awesome city, it has a castle in the middle of it.
That night we attended the Samhain festival, the pagan winter solstice. Held on top of Calton Hill near the centre of the city. We arrived early so got a good place in the line for gates opening at 7:30. After which we wandered up the hill with the rest of the people, about a 10-minute walk to the top. We still had a little while before it started so we grabbed some food from the food vans and wandered off across the top of the hill to find a good place.
Calton Hill is a park/festival venue in the centre of Edinburgh with a greek style set of columns dominating the top of the skyline, also known as Edinburgh’s disappointment. as the city council tried to copy Athens but ran out of money so the massive granite pillars and steps are not finished and look a bit shabby.
The festival started silently with dancing and acting with some low singing in one area, while a group oF half-naked red painted drummers approached from another area. They heralded their slow approach with a steady and slow but invigorating rolling drum beat. This continued in the same area for about 5 minutes, the drumming increasing and the actors playing out the lore of the stories being told. All the while there were other areas sparking into life telling different parts of the myth of winter solstice through dance and drums and fire.
Hi everyone Royce has asked me to add my 2 cents as 30mins or so into the performance we lost each other. It was a huge crowd of people all trying to see the same performance, so not overly surprising.
While Royce had the camera snapping shots on the uphill side of Calton Hill. I, having failed to squeeze myself into the masses of people ogling the embodiment of summer and winter revellers, made my way downhill a bit to what I found out was the main stage. The energy in the air was fantastic you could hear the drumbeat from every stage. there was a group of mimes on the main stage when I staked a claim on a spot at the front. Finally, the procession came down first the red summer revellers drums banging lots of yelling and yahooing. then winter and the battle of the summer and winter king. In between fire throwing and a battle of the two aspects. The White dreaded solstice incarnate came out to pronounce Winter as King for another season. All the revellers slowly made their way out to the big bonfire on the edge of the hill overlooking Edinburgh city.
WOW! What a view even in the dark. Royce found me again after a bit of Marco polo whistling. The festival slowly wound down after that and people began to drift off. Definitely worth going to if you get a chance, though knowing the lore apparently does help as we met a few people in the following days who enjoyed it but didn’t ‘get it’ because they had no understanding of the solstice story.
all in all was a great night, more of Scotland to come.