Botanical Gardens and Fire Festivals

Botanical Gardens and Fire Festivals

Our last day in Edinburgh was filled with flowers and fire. A strange combination, don't you think?

Let me start at the beginning. The day was set to be a beautiful one - clear skies, sun and warmth. We decided to start with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The garden encompass over 70 acres of immaculately cared for plants, trees and flowers and is only one mile from the city center. A definite must see for anyone visiting Edinburgh.

It was a bit chilly, as it was still morning, but the sun made everything come alive. We walked along the paths enjoying the colors and natural beauty of it all. 

Some more than others. 

We decided to skip the greenhouse, as it was an extra fee, but I would definitely go if we ever make it back to Edinburgh.

After taking in the last bits of the gardens we hopped on a bus and made our way back to the Grassmarket - with an incredible view of the castle. 

They have stalls set up with fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, flowers, sweets and more. They even had a little car show that day. 

We strolled along the stalls and then made our way to a quaint looking cafe for a coffee. 

A chilly day where the sun shines is my absolute favorite. I get to wear my favorite clothes (sweaters) and am able to ditch the bulky coat - that has annoyingly been in almost every picture we've taken since leaving in December.

After enjoying our coffee and making a quick t-shirt purchase for Collin at a very cool store called Swish we headed back to our AirBnb for a nap to gear up for the night's festivities. 

Rested and ready to go we headed out around sunset to Carlton Hill for the annual Beltane Fire Festival. The fire festival is an interpretation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual to celebrate the return of summer and is the largest of its kind. 

We heard about it from our amazing AirBnb host and decided it was definitely something we wanted to check out. We had picked up our tickets earlier that day and showed them at the gate and were then welcomed in to the party.

We walked up a very dark hillside and as we made our way over the crest we saw an amazing display of fire starting the festival. 

The entire festival centers around casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. We made our way around the hill to various spots with different performances happening.

But the major event was the processional walk around the hill lead by the amazingly clad Queen May.

Her costume was spectacular and had a floral yet ethereal beauty about it. 

The processional walks around the hill to different elemental performances (earth, water, air and finally fire).

We realized right away that with 12,000 people on top of the hill we weren't going to get a good spot to view the performance if we didn't strategically plan. We decided to skip a few so that we could get a great view of Queen May. 

Cold, but loving every minute, we made our way to the fire area to await the performers. Our spot was amazing, thanks to Collin, and we were able to see the entire performance easily - with no one blocking our view.

The festival itself was an phenomenal experience. We would highly recommend anyone attend, once. We realized after that you definitely have to plan out where to stand to make sure you can even see a glimpse of Queen May and her groupies. 

Also, be sure you take lots of layers as it is mightily cold when the sun goes down. 

Edinburgh was an incredible city. Put it on your bucket list. 


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© Whitney Korthauer 2014 All Rights Reserved