Peebles Beltane Festival
Peebles Beltane Week; with Queen Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the burgh revived the old ceremony of riding the marches, linking it with the Beltane Fair, which traced its origins to a charter granted by James VI in 1621. Beltane signifies the fire of Bell or Baal and originated from the pagan Celtic festival in honour of the power which in early summer gave light, warmth and growth.
Introduction of 2011 Beltane Principles
Each year in February, the Beltane Committee places an article in the local paper, the Peebleshire News, asking members of the public to nominate people who they think would be worthy of filling the positions of Cornet, Warden of Neidpath and Crowning Lady.
This generates a large number of nominations from the pubic. An elected ‘Selection Committee’ is responsible for picking the three principles and also the Warden of the Cross Kirk, a member of the local clergy.
On 29 April 2011, the Principals will be introduced to the public at a Concert in the Burgh Hall.
The Beltane Queen and Court are selected by the three head teachers from the three local primary schools. The individuals who have been chosen to fill these principle places in the ‘Court’ are announced in the middle of May.
Sunday 19 June
An open air Church Service held in the grounds of the Old Cross Kirk, Peebles is the first event of the Belatne week.
The service is preseded over by a local minister who will, at the beginning of the service, be installed as Warden of the Cross Kirk by the 2008 Warden. The service, which is open to all denominations, will last approximately one hour.
In the event of inclement weather the service will be held in the Old Parish Church, High Street, Peebles.
Monday 20 June
The younger children attend a Disco in the town.
At the same time, the Royal Burgh of Peebles Callant’s Club holds its annual dinner. A local man who has come home from abroad for the Beltane is usually invited as a guest to the dinner.
Tuesday 21 June
On Tuesday the Children’s Sports are held in the evening, starting at 6.45pm. The Sports, which are held in a local venue, are for everyone with races for toddlers, mums, dads, Ex-Cornets and event the band!
Ice cream will be given to all the competitors and at the end of the Sports one of the local bands will lead the children back to the High Street.
Wednesday 22 June
The Riding of the Marches takes place on Wednesday evening.
At 6.15pm the Cornet will be installed in fron to fht Parish Church Steps. He will then lead a mounted cavalcade around the ‘Burgh Marches’. The cavalcade will ford Tweed in Hay Lodge Park at 8.30pm. Horse racing on the Golf Course Race Track starts at 9pm. Several races take place during the evening including the race for the Beltane Bell.
At 7.15pm that same evening The Cornet and his immediate supporters will visit Neidpath Castle. There, the Warden of Neidpath will be installed in the castle forecourt. He will welcome the Cornet with a soeech.
At the end of the evening, 10.15pm, the Cornet, his supporters and their lass’ will dance the Cornet Rell in front of the Tontine Hotel.
Thursday 23 June
Following the busy Wednesday evening, Thursday brings an evening of entertainment at the Beltane Concert, held in the Burgh hall. Tickets for this performance can be bought at the door.
At the conclusion of the concert the Peebles Burgh Silver Band will lead the ‘Cornet’s Walk’. During this walk the Cornet and other Beltane principals and members of the public will escort the Beltane Queen through the streets of Peebles to her home. Once she has been seen home safely the band will escort the Cornet for the venue for his party.
Friday 24 June
The ‘Nicht Afore The Morn’ hosts the town’s Fancy Dress Parade with judging held at 7pm.
At 7.30pm the competitors will parade around the town. The parade will be lead by the Cornet and will include the two local bands plus visiting bands.
The Y.M. dancers and the Rugby Club will entertain the public on the High Street throughout the evening.
Beltane Saturday 25 June
The morning starts with the Proclamation of Beltane Fair on the Mercat Cross, and the presentation of the Cornet’s medal.
The children of the Beltane Queen’s court will then file past the Mercat Cross en-route to the Crowning Ceremony on the Parish Church Steps.
The two local bands playing ‘Come ower the hill tae Peebles’ will lead the principles and the guests to the church steps.
The Crowning Ceremony commences when the Crowning Lady will arrive in a Limousine while the Beltane Queen, her Maids and Pages will arrive at the Church Steps in the Beltane horse drawn carriages. The Queen’s proclamation is read and the children perform their duties, without any diretion.
The ceremony, which lasts approximately 45 minutes, finishes as the Crowning Lady, Beltane Queen, her Maids and Pages leave the steps and 500 children file off and prepare to board their decorated lorries for the Procession around the town.
The stunning Procession will be lead by the Cornet, his supporters and the local Silver and Pipe bands. Around 20 decorated lorries parade through the town along with 10 visiting Pipe and Silver bands from around Edinburgh and the South of Scotland. The Y.M. dancers and Rugby Club, once again entertain on the High Street.
The morning comes to a clos with a Service of Remembrance at the War Memorial ain the Chambers Institute Quadrangle.
At 7pm on Beltane Saturday evening the Peebles Burgh Silver Band Beat the Retreat on the High Street.
Sunday 26 June
The Professional Sports, which have been moved to Sunday afternoon for 2011, taking place in Whitestone Park (TBC).