Festivals

Beltane Festival

  • Beltane 2014
  • Beltane 2014
  • Beltane 2014

The Beltane Festival is a festival of local legend, history and tradition, combining ceremonies to welcome the summer (actually a Rites of Spring ceremony, but relocated to the end of the school year) with the ancient practice of the Riding of the Marches of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Peebles (checking that the boundary posts of the town remain in place, and in the right place). 

In practice this allows the town and visitors to engage in a week of festivities and entertainment centred around two key figures - the Beltane Queen (drawn from those primary school pupils about to move up to secondary school), and the Cornet (a young horseman - or at least he will be by the time the week starts - most deemed to be a worthy son of Peebles and an ambassador for the town).  Both the queen and the cornet are surrounded by their supporters - the queen by her court, and the cornet by his Lass and two mounted supporters.  And the town is decked out in flags and bunting, with the houses of the Beltane Queen and the members of her court specially decorated in recognition of the honour attaching to these few chosen as the best of Peebles.  

The Festival starts on the Sunday with ceremonies at the War Memorial in the quandrangle of the Chambers Institution and a service at the Cross Kirk.  The spectacular Riding of the Marches takes place on the Wednesday evening, with the investiture of the Cornet who is then accompanied by some 200 horsemen and women in riding the boundary, and ending with an evening of horse racing and dancing.  On the following Saturday the Beltane Queen is crowned at the steps of the Parish Church at the end of the High Street with due pomp and ceremony, involving the majority of the town's primary school children, heralds, town criers, and brass band.