bridgwater Guy Fawks Carnival Logo


Carnival 2020 - 6pm Saturday 7th November

Carnival A – Z

Carnival A - ZAArts Council England
A grant for £31,926 has been awarded for the 2015 Bridgwater Carnival celebrations by the Government funded body, who has the responsibility of distributing money from the Government and National Lottery to the development of arts in England.

B – Bridgwater: The home of carnival
Journalistic records shows it can be traced back to 1847 making Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival the oldest event of its kind in the United Kingdom. It has the reputation for being one of the largest illuminated processions in the world and this year’s event takes place on Saturday 7 November.

C – Carts
Carnival floats in Bridgwater were originally constructed on hay carts or log carts. The name of ‘cart’ has stuck!

D – Daytime entertainment
This year over 30 street entertainers, musicians and bands will be warming the crowds up in the town centre on carnival day as the anticipation grows for the main procession. The daytime entertainment starts at 10am and includes a choreographed parade of over 150 local school children.

E – Economy
The local economy benefits greatly from the activities of Bridgwater Carnival, and many local eateries, pubs and shops report record takings on the day the carnival comes to town. In 2014 more than 26,000 people walked through the town’s Angel Place Shopping Centre on carnival day, and there was a 69% footfall increase through the centre on the day after the carnival compared to 2013.

F – Features
The all singing, all dancing, all moving style of carnival entry.

G – Gangs and Features
Bridgwater Gangs and Features is an organisation for the town’s carnival clubs and is separate to Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee. Full member clubs include: British Flag CC, Cavaliers CC, Centurion CC, Crusaders CC, Gremlins CC, Griffens CC, Lime Kiln CC, Marketeers CC, Ramblers CC, Renegades CC, Vagabonds CC, Wills CC and YMCA CC. Associate members are: Marina Sydenham Juvenile CC, Newmarket CC, Pentathlon CC, Toppers CC and Wilfs CC.

H – Hardy Spicer Championship
Annually presented to the local Bridgwater carnival club with the greatest number of points in the procession and carnival concert. It was first presented in 1952 as the Hardy Spicer Challenge Cup.

I – Information
50,000 publicity flyers promoting Bridgwater Carnival 2015 have been sent to motorway service stations, event attractions and tourist information centres throughout the country. The event’s official website receives over approximately 100,000 hits every year, and it’s increasingly popular Twitter and Facebook page accounts have over 3,200 followers and over 2,900 likes respectively.

J – Judging
The six judging categories for the carts taking part in Bridgwater Carnival are: 1) presentation and general effect, 2) stillness, routine or comedy content, 3) lighting, 4) costume and make up, 5) cart build up, 6) music. There are 4 judging categories for the walking entries: 1) general effect and entertainment value, 2) costume and make up, 3) presentation and routine, 4) ingenuity.

K – Kilowatts
18,000 kilowatts of electricity powered the 50 carnival carts taking part in last year’s carnival procession.

L – Lights
In 1903 the first electric light bulb was used on an entry in the Bridgwater Carnival procession. Over 350,000 lights illuminated the skyline as the carts meandered around the streets of Bridgwater in 2014.

M – Monies
In the last five years Bridgwater Carnival related activities have raised over £110,000 for the official Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival charity and other local supported charities. At Bridgwater Carnival 2015, over 400 collectors will be on the streets and are expected to collect over 500,000 coins.

N – November
The origins of Bridgwater Carnival can be traced back to the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, failed in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Maybe it was because Bridgwater was staunchly protestant in those days that the townsfolk celebrated with greater vigour than anywhere else, creating a tradition of widespread merrymaking on the annual anniversary of the fifth. Or maybe it was just an excuse to enjoy an evening of fun around the bonfire before the long, cold nights of winter really set in. Whatever the reason, those celebrations have now grown into the magnificent spectacle we know today. Bridgwater Carnival always takes place on the first Saturday in November.

O – Organisation
After years of informal annual celebrations, the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee was formed in 1881 containing just 15 people, and held the first ‘official’ carnival on Monday 7 November. Nowadays the committee boasts over 80 members.

P – Procession
Distance wise, the procession route is just over 1.7 miles from the very first entry to the very last entry in the parade, and it will take 2½ hours to pass any one viewing point.

Q – Queen
The Queen and Prince Philip were presented with a 1986 carnival video by the then carnival president, Bill Holland, after the royal couple visited Bridgwater in 1987.

R – Refresco Gerber
2015 is the 17th consecutive year Refresco Gerber has sponsored Bridgwater Carnival and once again 2015 sees the fruit juice producers being the main local event sponsor.

S – Squibs
Giant fireworks originally made in homes throughout the town but now produced to a secret formula by leading firework manufacturers, especially for Bridgwater Carnival. In 1929, over 2,000 squibs were ignited during the course of carnival night. 800 of these were 24 inches in length with a 2 inch bore, whilst the remainder measured 12 inches by 1 inch. Because of their size, the squibs are tied to poles (coshes) and, once lit, are held above the squibbers head until the firework extinguishes. Nowadays a simultaneous squibbing display is held in the town’s High Street immediately after the parade when upwards of 150 squibs are ignited at the same time creating a marvellous, unique display.

T – Tableaux
Entries where cast members stand or pose completely still, creating a picture which depicts their chosen theme.

U – Unveiling
2015 sees the 10th anniversary of the formal unveiling of the carnival squibber statue in the centre of Bridgwater. Watching over the High Street as people go about their daily lives, the statue has become synonymous with carnival lovers from all over the world.

V – Volunteers
All carnival committee and carnival club members are volunteers, and it is estimated over 3,000 people are involved with the organisation and the entries at Bridgwater Carnival 2015.

W – Willow
For the 2015 Bridgwater Carnival celebrations, Bridgwater based Somerset Willow Company will be making two large Guy Fawkes effigies made from willow. The first will be ceremoniously lit at the start of the grand firework display on Friday 6 November by the president of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival to signify the start of the 2015 Bridgwater Carnival celebrations, and the second willow effigy will lead the illuminated procession the following night. Each effigy stands 14ft tall, contains 11,556 strands of willow and took two and a half weeks to weave.

X – Xanadu
In 1976 Marketeers CC were one of the first carnival clubs from Somerset asked to take their entry Xanadu to represent Bridgwater Carnival at the following year’s Easter Parade in London’s Battersea Park.

Y – Yankee Doodle Dandee
Crown Inn CC’s 1948 entry Yankee Doodle Dandee was significant in the history of Bridgwater Carnival as it was the last competitive entry to use horses to pull a cart in the procession. The two shire horses used were covered almost entirely with flowers and were illuminated by electric lights.

Z – Zones
The procession route is split into 8 different zones for judging purposes and 76 judges are on duty on Bridgwater Carnival night having a big say on where the 37 cups on offer are awarded.