Flaming Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary

The West Country has a history of torchlight processions and burning barrels and Ottery was only one of the many towns and villages following an annual tradition containing barrels which were rolled in the streets on November 5th each year. Somewhere along the line someone decided rolling was tame and carrying barrels on your shoulders was far more appealing and so the present tradition was born and now Ottery is the only Town in the country carrying full sized lighted tar barrels through the streets. The procession of tableaux is also an old West Country tradition and is still a popular part of the winter months when most weekends will see a procession of brightly lit tableaux in a great many Towns and villages. November the 5th each year is the traditional day for the Tar Barrels and only changes when the 5th falls on a Sunday.  The procession and fireworks are normally on the Saturday before the 5th of November.

Bridgwater Carnival

The origins of the annual carnival are in Bridgwater and can be traced back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the famous squibbing! The Somerset Carnivals are highly regarded as the largest illuminated procession in the world.

The carnivals on the county circuit take place everyNovember in Somerset, UK. They visit the local towns of Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Glastonbury, North Petherton, Shepton Mallet, Wells, and Weston-Super-Mare. The Somerset County carnivals are one of the most spectacular events in Somerset today, and the Bridgwater Carnival regularly attracts crowds of 150,000. The carnival carts are designed and built by dedicated carnival clubs around the West Country. These clubs have many members who raise money throughout the year, and work relentlessly to achieve the spectacular carnival entries. Each clubs entry then takes part in the carnival parade along with many other entries, putting on a show to the public, and competing with each other to impress the judges. The illuminated carts can be up to 100ft in length, 16ft high, and 11ft wide, and some have 20-30,000 light bulbs. Events are free, and it is advisable to get there early.