Oie Voaldyn takes place this weekend and is set to be a real highlight of the Bank holiday weekend. Now in its second year, the Manx fire festival runs on Sunday 5th May.
What has been most fantastic has been the contribution from Culture Vannin and the Isle of Man Arts Council. Young people are looking more and more into their own customs and traditions and there is a real appetite for it. We have more characters this year, more music, more fighters choreographing scenes, more people involved – it has really grown very organically.
- John Shakespeare, festival organiser
There will be a live music stage at Spit Corner in Peel from 2-8pm with lots of activities taking place throughout the day including a storytelling tepee. The torchlit procession will be taking place at 9pm. It will be followed by a spectacular display between the armies of Winter and Summer, fire displays and fireworks to finish the night all to the backdrop of the stunning Peel Castle, Peel Beach and the sea. It promises to be a very atmospheric event.
The event organisers encourage audience members to dress up and take part in the torch procession. Torches can be bought in support of The Mannin Cancers Support Group.
(Excerpt from the Oie Voaldyn Facebook page.)
Our festival is a reinterpretation and modernisation of the old Manx customs surrounding Oie Voaldyn or May Day Eve. Launched in 2018, our fledgling event quickly gathered momentum; we soon recognised there was a real desire to revive some of our unique Manx customs and we welcomed involvement from the local community.
The aim of our festival is to bring people together to acknowledge and celebrate the return of summer. We don’t intend to recreate ancient practices but to continue in the spirit of our forebears and create our own connection to the cycles of the seasons. Oie Voaldyn celebrates the traditions of the past with an eye on the future.
Traditionally Oie Voaldyn was a time to celebrate the return of the fertility of the land. The use of fire was one of a number of customs used at this time of year, to fend of witches and evil spirits. Fire was seen as a purifier and healer and would have been danced around and jumped over by the members of the community. The winter gorse was burnt away to make way for new growth. Farmers would have driven their livestock between the bonfires to cleanse and protect them before being put out into the fields.
It was a time of joy and revelry, a time for courtship and romance, and a celebration of the potential for new life. It was about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light.
Our evening interpretation sees Summer and Winter challenging each other for supremacy. With torchlight processions, a mock battle and gorse fires on the shore, the Son et Lumiere is viewed against the stunning backdrop of Peel Castle and bay.
The event is fully narrated with stirring and emotive music to accompany proceedings. The evening concludes with fire poi, fire spinning and an amazing firework display.