Beltain (or Beltane) is an ancient Celtic celebration with music, dancing and the burning of the giant Wicker Man.

Beltane means ‘fires of Bel’ (Bel was a Celtic deity). The fire festival celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.

Fire is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise.

It takes around a month to build the Wicker Man and a raffle is held to choose the person who will have the honour of lighting it.


View photos of Beltain at Butser Ancient Farm

What happens at Beltain at Butser?

You can expect a pleasant afternoon/evening of entertainment and refreshments culminating with the burning of the 30ft-high Wicker Man at dusk which is stuffed with scraps of paper on which hopes for the coming year are written. Gates to the festival open at 4.30pm. The event finishes at 10pm. The Wickerman is lit at dusk (normally around 9pm) to the sound of drumming.


There’s plenty of music and dance including drumming and morris dancers.

Other entertainment includes birds of prey, Roman cooking, Ancient Wessex Network, Ancient Musicians, roaming entertainers, storytelling, Roman gladiators, Anglo Saxon re-enactors, Hants Astro with their telescopes, an artistic maze, various stalls and traditional skills demonstrations in metalworking, leather craft, hurdle making, flint knapping, spinning and weaving.

What to pack:

  • Cash. There is no cash point on site
  • Keep an eye on the weather and dress accordingly – there is little shelter from rain or sun.
  • A torch for the walk back up to the car park
  • Something to sit on
  • Warm clothes for when the sun goes down
  • Waterproofs/umbrella if it looks like rain
  • Shoes that are comfortable for walking
  • Camera