Hook Lighthouse Celebrates First Imbolc Festival

Participants tie spring wishes to the Imbolc tree during the festival. (Photo: Hook Lighthouse)

By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
April / May 2018

Though one of the lesser-known festivals of the ancient Celts, Imbolc was one of the four most important seasonal celebrations in the Celtic calendar, heralding the coming of spring. Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, has revived and reimagined the festival for the modern era in its inaugural celebration of Imbolc on the 800-year-old site.

The three-day festival, held in early February, offered concerts, storytelling, poetry, and a special sunrise tour of the historic lighthouse. Singer Brian Kennedy played a sold-out show in the lighthouse tower itself, while storyteller Baya Salmon-Hawk offered the history of Imbolc, as well as of St. Brigid, whose feast day coincided with the festival.

The word imbolc means literally “in the belly” in the old Irish Neolithic language. It is symbolic of the beginning of the season and signals the “quickening of the year.” Baya Salmon-Hawk also performed a Celtic goddess ceremony on the theme of “quickening within you” at the garden cobbled maze at the lighthouse. In the center of the maze, participants tied spring wishes on the Imbolc tree sculpture surrounded by the fire-baskets lighting the garden. ♦

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