The curtain will be raised on Monday 2 October for the first performance of the 2023 Bridgwater Carnival Concerts. The concerts start at 7pm on weekday nights and 6pm at weekends, and last for approximately four hours.
Prices range from £13.50 to £18 and there are still a small amount of tickets left which can be purchased from the Carnival Centre, High Street, Bridgwater, the Town Hall Box Office on performance nights, and Bridgwater Carnival’s online shop.
Here are some ‘number’ facts about the 2023 Bridgwater Carnival Concerts:
1) It is exactly 140 years since the first ever carnival concert was held.
2) Over 600 performers will take part in the 4 hour show which is being held for 12 nights. These performers consist of 26 different acts – 12 x carnival clubs, 2 x dance troupes, and 12 front of curtain acts.
3) During the 12 nights, the stage will be in use for performances for a total of 40 hours and 24 minutes. Throughout the period, each club and dance troupe will perform on stage for 102 minutes (1 hour and 42 minutes).
4) 131 different song titles will be sung every night at the carnival concerts.
5) 12 back stage crew, 7 sound and lighting operators, 2 programme sellers, and 2 St John Ambulance representatives are in the Town Hall making sure the show runs smoothly every night. These are supported by a team of 33 stewards, including a Chief Steward and Assistant Chief Steward, throughout the concert fortnight. 84 stage lights have been installed for the concerts, 1,400 lighting cubs, and a total of 32 radio microphones are used every night by the cast.
6) 9 experienced judges are on duty throughout the carnival concerts fortnight, and 16 trophies are on offer for those taking part.
7) 50 different companies and individuals have donated raffle prizes for the nightly raffles which are taking place in the 2023 carnival concerts. Since Pam Robson started the concert raffle back in 2007, it has raised nearly £30,000 for carnival funds.
8) The preparations for Renegades Carnival Club’s 2023 stage show Carnaval Del Barrio! has a transatlantic connection, as the singing direction and teaching has been taught via weekly video calls by club member, Paige Brunton, who is working 4,243 miles away in Walt Disney World, Florida. 3 dress makers have spent over 150 hours making the costumes for the 56 cast members. More than £800 of feathers have been purchased, and over 200 metres of braid and trim have been added to the ladies costumes alone. 2023 is club member, Katie Whiting’s, 23 rd consecutive year choreographing for Renegades CC, and the 19 th consecutive year she has been Stage Captain and Choreographer.
9) Marketeers Carnival Club have been inspired by the last time they won the Carnival Concerts 23 years ago, and their stage show Dames is a tribute to one of Britain’s finest stage traditions – Pantomime. Featuring 46 different dames, the club’s cast are wearing 48 individual, personalised handmade costumes, and in their 471 second long show sing a total of 894 words.
10) Griffens Carnival Club are celebrating 55 years in carnival, and their 2023 stage show is called Renovate. The club have 30 people on stage and have spent over 70 hours rehearsing, with 3 rehearsals held outside and 1 in a cow shed. Ages of the cast range between 13 and 73, their costumes contain 468 hand sewn buttons, and the members have cut out by hand 169 builder logos from foamboard.
11) 321 hours have been spent in creating the costumes for the 17 cast members of Centurion Carnival Club and their 2023 stage show Cyber Invasion 9055. One cast member has 2 costumes for the show, and the individual has exactly 23 seconds to change out of one costume and into the other. The make up for the 17 cast members will collectively take over 3 hours every night, and will be applied by just 1 person – Stage Captain, Colin Burnap.
12) Lime Kiln Carnival Club have 35 cast members performing in their 2023 stage show Race Night. Club members setup 8 different WhatsApp groups, shared 35 progress film clips, and completed 26 rehearsals in readiness for this year’s concerts. The club’s stage set has 360 arrows across 15 lines and spanning 170 feet, and have used 80 metres of ribbon for their costumes.
13) 49 cast members are appearing on the stage for British Flag CC, whose 2023 song scena is titled Grimm Ever After. The costumes were made by 5 costume makers and consist of 220 metres of material and 90 metres of jacquard ribbon. The costumes also include 30 hats, hoods or crowns, 40 capes, 40 torches, and 10 pairs of leg warmers. 25 paint brushes were used to paint the club’s stage set.
14) Singing trawlermen is the theme for Ramblers Carnival Club’s 2023 entry Welcome to the Rock, and the 39 cast members have been rehearsing for 5 hours a week since June. The club’s stage set consists of 26 props, 6 barrels, 4 wooden buckets, 10 crates, 12 mops and brushes and 20 beer tankards. In the first song alone, the cast have over 60 different dance movements to remember.
15) Most Wonderful Time… is the title for the 2023 stage show for Crusaders Carnival Club. The cast has spent over 100 hours rehearsing for their Christmas themed show, and their props include 30 presents, 37 snowballs and 4 balls of yarn.
16) Cavaliers Carnival Club have a cast of 22, with ages ranging 15 to 50, for their 2023 stage show Outlaws Amongst Us!. The club’s costume coordinator has spent over 70 hours ordering material, making and adjusting costumes.
17) Wills Carnival Club have 3 generations of the Lockyer/Baker family, and 2 mother and daughter combinations (Charlotte and Laura Bell, and Lindsey and Lillie Potter) performing in their 2023 stage show Coppelius’s Toy Theatre. The club has 17 performers on stage, 8 back stage support crew, and their show contains 2 curtain closures and 7 scenes depicting the story in tableaux.
18) A total of 128 dancers are performing across 2 different nights for Sally Williams Dancers and their 2023 stage show Amazonia – Our Wonderful World. 6 of the dancers are performing in the carnival concerts for the very first time, and the youngest cast member is just 4 years old. More than 2,000 beads have been threaded onto their costumes, along with 100 metres of feather trim.
19) Julia McDonald Dance Company are dedicating their 2023 stage show titled This is Africa to Julia McDonald (Miss Julia) who sadly died earlier this year. Over 200 Miss Julia Memorial Ribbons (a McDonald clan tartan ribbon and a single gold star to represent her Scottish heritage and shining spirit) are being worn by the students, chaperones and carnival supporters throughout the carnival fortnight as a tribute to her contribution of a lifetime of dancing knowledge to the carnival concerts. The senior dancers in the show will be wearing 170 handmade fabric bangles made from rope and authentic African fabric, and 676 strips of fabric have been cut and sewn for the dancers skirt costumes. 20 dancers have learned to play African drums for this year’s performance.
20) 2023 sees Brian Epps celebrating 30 years of being a judge of the Bridgwater Carnival Concerts. Including this year’s show, Brian has judged an incredible 877 different shows by carnival clubs, dance troupes and front of curtain acts in that time.
21) In the past 17 years, the following carnival clubs have won the top prize at the
Bridgwater Carnival Concerts:
Gremlins CC – 6
Ramblers CC – 4
British Flag CC – 3
Vagabonds CC – 2
Renegades CC – 2