Striking images of pagan fire festival in Yorkshire to honour coming of spring

Imbolc is a pagan festival marking St Brigid's Day and the end of winter. During the festival Jack Frost and the Green Man battle for supremacy in a mummers play symbolising the triumph of spring over winter. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Imbolc is a pagan festival marking St Brigid's Day and the end of winter. During the festival Jack Frost and the Green Man battle for supremacy in a mummers play symbolising the triumph of spring over winter. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

In a pagan tradition to celebrate the first stirrings of spring, a brilliantly lit fire battle has raged to honour the impending close of the darkest of winter days.

The Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival, with its roots in Celtic rituals, is centred around the turning of the seasons as the Green Man battles for supremacy over old Jack Frost.

Fire artists with the Green Man during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival. Jack Frost and the Green Man battle for supremacy in a mummers play symbolising the triumph of spring over winter. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Fire artists with the Green Man during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival. Jack Frost and the Green Man battle for supremacy in a mummers play symbolising the triumph of spring over winter. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The tradition, which dates back 27 years in the West Yorkshire village, heralds the hope of new blooms to come with its procession and fire battles.

“In the dark time after Christmas, when people feel down and the weather is bad, we wanted a festival to bring people together and celebrate the start of spring,” said Angela Boycott-Garnett‎, one of the organisers.

“In Celtic history there were these fire festivals to celebrate these first stirrings of spring on February 1, which might be a bit optimistic, but it does herald that it’s just around the corner.”

Run by volunteers, the festival begins with a procession of druid-type figures, before the parade and fire battle. There are fire sculptures, 12ft tall puppets, fireworks and a samba band.

Fire artists during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Fire artists during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

“It’s such a fantastic festival,” Miss Boycott-Garnett‎ added.

“It creates such a feeling of community.”

A fire artist depicting Jack Frost during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A fire artist depicting Jack Frost during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Fire artists during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Fire artists during the Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival in Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA Wire