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Thousands celebrate return of summer at Bealtaine Fire Festival

A parade during the Bealtaine Fire Festival at the Hill of Uisneach in Co Westmeath (Niall Carson/PA)
A parade during the Bealtaine Fire Festival at the Hill of Uisneach in Co Westmeath (Niall Carson/PA)

Thousands of people gathered in the centre of Ireland to give the coming of summer a traditional welcome.

Bealtaine Fire Festival
A horse sculpture on display as part of the Bealtaine Fire Festival (Niall Carson/PA)
The Hill of Uisneach Fire Festival
Jazz Smith, centre, meditates during the event on the Hill of Uisneach (Niall Carson/PA)
Bealtaine Fire Festival
Attendees enjoyed music and dance as part of the festivities (Niall Carson/PA)

The Bealtaine Fire Festival brought an estimated 5,000 people to the Hill of Uisneach in Rathnew, an ancient ceremonial site in Co Westmeath.

The site is considered to be spiritual and mythological in Ireland with links to the high kings.

Bonfire
A crowd of just under 5,000 people gathered around a huge bonfire as the culmination of the event (Niall Carson/PA)
Bealtaine Fire Festival
The festival involved hundreds of performers (Niall Carson/PA)
Bealtaine Fire Festival
The event is held every year to celebrate the return of summer (Niall Carson/PA)

The festival saw attendees enjoy music, food, mindfulness, yoga, crafts and other entertainment before the main event in the evening.

As darkness fell on Saturday, there was the lighting of the Bealtaine Fire, the traditional act to welcome the return of summer.