This Saturday 4th May, Butser Ancient Farm, near Petersfield, Hampshire, will host its spectacular annual Beltain festival. As the highlight of the Butser year, the celebration culminates in the burning of a giant 30ft wickerman to the accompaniment of the pulsing rhythms and music of the Pentacle drummers.
The Festival is the biggest fundraising event for the farm, supporting its educational and research work throughout the rest of the year, and a huge amount of work goes into making the festival a truly unique and memorable experience for the 2000 plus people attending. The Wickerman has taken months of construction in preparation for Saturday, when the design and identity of the 2019 figure will finally be revealed. Visitors will be able to write wishes for the coming year to be posted into the Wickerman, before he is burned to the ground at dusk, sending the wishes out into the world.
Leading up to the burn, festival-goers can expect to be enthralled with displays and activities including ancient crafts, fighting demonstrations, axe-throwing, ancient cooking, dancing, astronomy, live music and much more. There will be a range of tasty food and drink with a hog roast, BBQ, handmade cakes, crepes, local ales and – of course – mead! Roman, Celtic, Stone Age and Saxon re-enactors will bring the ancient reconstructed buildings to life.
Beltain is one of four great festivals of the Celtic year and was celebrated in anticipation of the coming summer. It was traditionally seen as a festival of fire and light with the lighting of large fires believed to help strengthen the sun for the first day of summer. Modern May-day celebrations, with the traditions of Morris Dancers and May-poles, still trace their roots back to this ancient Celtic festival. Stand in the glow of the burning Wickerman and connect to the ancient traditions that have been celebrated for over 3000 years.
Beltain at Butser Ancient Farm takes place on Saturday 4th May from 4.30 – 10pm. Tickets can be booked in advance through the Butser website; www.butserancientfarm.co.uk/beltain-festival/