News and Updates from the Land

Beltane Celebration

Sunday, May 4th from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm137_Maypole

The snow has melted and the mud has dried, and that means it’s time to welcome spring at the Watershed Center’s annual Beltane celebration.

The Watershed Center’s 11th annual vernal gathering marks the return of warmer days and the start of the land’s new season of growing and giving. Featuring music, poetry, and pageantry, it’s a festive tradition that brings together families of all ages to dance around the maypole and share the anticipation for the months ahead.

Beltane is a Celtic festival whose origins have proved difficult to trace. It takes its name from “Bel,” the Celtic sun god, and “taine,” which is Gaelic for “fire,” and marks the time of year when faeries and other nature spirits are thought to be most active. Legend has it that the first Beltane festival was held in 902 AD at the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, Ireland by the Cormac, King of Munster. It celebrated the blossoming of spring and the ancient pastoral event of moving livestock to their summer grazing fields. As Beltane rituals developed, cattle would often be driven between two bonfires to protect them from disease. Indeed, fire, a symbol of our life-giving sun, became a prominent part of Beltane festivities, which mark the start of the summer season by summoning growth and fertility.

With a nod to the past and eye to the future, fire will be an integral part of the Watershed Center’s own celebration, along with potluck snacks, a maypole dance, and a few other Celtic traditions. It’s a perfect afternoon to enter the forest and savor the sights and sounds of spring with neighbors we know and friends we haven’t yet met.

Rain or shine, the all-weather celebration will be held from 3-5:00 pm on Sunday, May 4th at the picnic area on the Norton Brook Reservoir at the Waterworks in Bristol (about a 1/2 mile walk from the parking area, which is off Plank Road 1/2 mile east of North Street.) Please carpool if possible. Bring a dish to share, something to drink, and bug repellent just in case. Please leave pets at home. For more information, visit or call the Watershed Center at 453-7728.

Leave a Comment