THE second tranche of tickets for the annual burning of a huge Wickerman at Butser Ancient Farm go on sale tomorrow from 6pm via the farm’s website, with a final release still to come.
The first release sold out in hours, so those keen to enjoy the incredible spectacle on Saturday, April 29 are advised to book quickly.
The Celtic festival Beltain (also known as Beltane) celebrates the end of winter and the rebirth of summer.
The highlight of the event that runs from 4pm to 10pm is the burning of a 40ft-high Wickerman made at the farm from locally-sourced wood.
As well as the bonfire, there will be live folk music, Morris dancing, storytelling, and living history.
There will also be performances by the UK’s premier drumming troupe Pentacle Drummers, combat displays, and the chance to meet the Green Man and May Queen. And master craftsfolk will be at work demonstrating traditional skills, alongside encampments of re-enactors bringing 10,000 years of our ancient past to life.
But although an educational entertainment today, the festival is thought to stretch back to the dawn of history.
Butser Ancient Farm archaeologist Claire Walton said: “For our ancestors, carefully marking the changing of the seasons and acknowledging the growing cycle of their staple crops was literally life and death.
“It is in essence one of four seasonal celebrations marking the Celtic year, Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh being the others.
“Beltain is situated halfway between the spring equinox (day and night being of equal length) and the summer solstice (the longest day).
“That this time of year was of huge symbolic importance to our ancestors is reflected in the still widespread celebration of May Day in continental Europe, and indeed here, if only in the form of May bank holiday.
“The festival marked when cattle were driven out to summer pasture. Rituals featuring bonfires were a major part of Beltain, the fire symbolising purification.
“Driving cattle between the flames, as recorded in some of the earliest Irish literature, was a way of cleansing and protecting them, likewise the connected ritual of extinguishing the flames in all domestic hearths and relighting them from this ‘sacred’ fire – an opportunity for rebirth and growth for people as well as livestock.”
For more information, and to book tickets, visit the website at https://www.butserancientfarm.co.uk/