Wicker Man festival returns to beauty spot

Simon Jay standing on top of the wickerman during the build
Simon Jay standing on top of the wickerman during the build
064968_0115_UNICORN_ROAD_LIGHTS (CO) 21/11/06

The traffic lights junction at Unicorn Road, Landport, Portsmouth, looking north towards Unicorn Gate, at the juction with Alfred Road and Market Way. The lights give a long wait at red, then only 15-seconds at green. Vehicles and motorists often have to wait two changes, causing anger and delays for drivers.

PICTURE: MICHAEL SCADDAN (064968-0115) MAYOAK0003370765

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IT IS a fiery spectacle that goes back to a ritual performed by the earliest settlers of Britain.

Hundreds of people are set to turn out this evening to watch the burning of the Wicker Man.

The celebration is held every year at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton.

The 40ft structure will be set alight today for Beltain, which is the start of the Pagan summer.

As well as the awesome sight of the fire, the unique working farm, close to the A3, will play host to folk music, traditional hog roast, great ales and ancient traditions.

There will also be belly dancing and displays of birds of prey.

It is the farm’s 40th anniversary year and organisers said Beltain is set to be even more special than usual.

Director Simon Day said: ‘It’s taken several weeks to build the Wicker Man and it looks wonderful.

‘He is holding a beffombroom, which is like a witch’s broom, and is on a 10ft platform which makes him even bigger than usual.

‘We are all very excited about the new visitor centre which is being built after the festival ends.

‘It’s something we’ve wanted for 20 years and it’s finally happening in this, our 40th year.

‘We’ve got special events going on all through the summer.’

Gates open at 4.30pm and tickets cost £15 for adults and £10 for children on the gate.

The Wicker Man will be lit once it gets dark.

Visitors are advised to take footwear suitable for mud, as well as a torch.