No sooner have the TweedLove bike festival banners and signage been packed away for another 12 months then out come a new set of flags and decorations … yes, it’s time for this year’s Peebles Beltane Festival, with much of the action taking place at or around the Tontine!
Big, brash and altogether bemusing for newcomers to the town, Beltane is a colourful celebration of local legend, tradition and community – not to mention a good excuse for getting dressed up! For a whole week (17-23 June), buildings and houses around the town are festooned in flags and other decorations – a wonderful sight and testament to the efforts that go on behind the scenes in the months and weeks leading up to Beltane.
Look closely at individual houses and you’ll also see which households are home to children chosen as part of the ‘court’ of this year’s Beltane Queen.
Proceedings began on Sunday, with the Principals elect, Peebles Silver Band, Peebles Pipe Band and others assembling at the Cross Kirk for the traditional Inaugural Service. There then follows a busy schedule of events throughout the week, from children’s and pro sports to a special Beltane Concert and a brilliant fancy dress parade through the town.
There are, however, a couple of particular highlights. Wednesday sees the Cornet and his Lass installed by the Beltane Festival Chairman, followed by a spectacular ride-out of the Cornet together with 250-plus other horse riders as they ‘Ride the Marches’. Friday is the Fancy Dress Competition and Parade, at which all manner of funny and outrageous costumes take centre stage. Listed amongst the worlds best street parties, ‘The Borders Ridings’ are featured in the ‘Homecoming’ celebrations.
But it’s Saturday that’s the real big one – the Peebles Red Letter Day. Starting at 7am with the judging of all decorated houses around the town, the day includes an early morning ride-out over nearby Cademuir Hill, a procession of more than 500 children all in costume, the coronation of the Beltane Queen, and the Grand Procession – when theCornet leads mounted followers on a route along the town’s major roads.
Supported by a variety of pipe, brass and other bands, the wonderful procession of the Queen and her court together with an assortment of decorated lorries and floats is a much-loved part of Beltane week, with the streets lined by cheering onlookers.
For much more on this year’s festival, including its origins and history, check out http://www.peeblesbeltanefestival.co.uk
Oh, and don’t forget to come along and join the fun!