Sedgemoor Masquerade Week kicks off on Sunday 31 October with the first performance of a special Variety Show held at Bridgwater Town Hall. The show, organised by Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee, Bridgwater Gangs & Features, and Bridgwater Town Council, is the first of a number of low key and symbolic activities organised by local carnivalities, after the annual traditional illuminated carnival processions and carnival concerts were cancelled for the second successive year due to the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Featuring performances from the Bridgwater carnival clubs and a selection of front of curtain acts, the unique ‘one off’ 31⁄2 hour long variety shows take place on:
* Sunday 31 October 2021, 3pm
* Monday 1 November 2021, 7pm
* Tuesday 2 November 2021, 7pm
* Wednesday 3 November 2021, 7pm
* Thursday 4 November 2021, 7pm
There are still some tickets (sponsored by Reflections Bar) available, and these can be purchased for £5 from the Carnival Centre (High Street, Bridgwater) or by telephone 01278 428220.
Those watching the concerts are encouraged to take a lateral flow test before attending and are asked to stay away if feeling unwell. Concert goers will also be encouraged to wear facemasks while watching the performances.
Friday 5 November – Bridgwater Grand Firework Display, 7.30pm, St Matthew’s Field
On the 416th anniversary The Gunpower Plot, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival will be holding a ‘Grand Firework Display’. Sponsored by Bridgwater Town Council and supported by Sedgemoor District Council for the fifteenth year, the event will take place on Friday 5 November at St Matthew’s Field. The glittering fireworks display, which starts at 7.30pm, has proved popular in the past with spectators and has been well supported by people in and around the Sedgemoor area.
The build up to the fireworks display will start at 3pm, as there will be other attractions at St Matthew’s Field to entertain the family, including a handful of fairground rides, kindly provided by the world famous Chipperfield family.
Car parking on the field will be available from 6pm at a cost of £5 per car, with proceeds going towards to the official Bridgwater Carnival charity. Spectators are encouraged to take a lateral flow test before attending and are asked to stay away if feeling unwell. They should also respect the health and concerns of others, wear face masks wherever possible, and stand in less crowded spaces and areas.
Saturday 6 November – Bridgwater Walking Costume Parade, squibbing display and virtual ‘Through the Decades’ carnival. Street entertainment and walking costume parade.
The Sedgemoor Masquerade Week fun continues on what would have been the day of Bridgwater Carnival 2021 with a toned down programme of excitement and activities. ACTS will be performing in Angel Place Shopping Centre from 10.30 hours and we have a variety of performances in the town centre from 14:30 hours, including the Sea Cadets Band, Exmouth Shanty Men, stilt walkers and street theatre acts.
The walking costume parade starts from Sedgemoor District Council’s car park in Mount Street at 5.30pm. The 1.2 mile route will run in a clockwise direction around the streets of Bridgwater, and the 45 entries will pass along The Clink, East Quay, Carvery Road, New Road, Eastover, Fore Street, Cornhill, High Street, Mount Street, and Northgate, before finishing back at the Sedgemoor District Council car park. There will not be any carnival carts in the procession.
At 7.30pm a squibbing display will take place in the High Street. Squibbing is unique to Bridgwater and is the only place in the world where simultaneous squibbing takes place. Squibs are giant fireworks and are tied to coshes (poles), and once lit are held about the squibber’s head until the firework extinguishes.
There will be some temporary road closures in place in the town on the day to facilitate the walking costume parade and the squibbing. These will be setup on the route at approximately 4:30pm, and will remain in place until after the parade has passed. The High Street will also be closed to vehicles from 2pm, and will remain shut until after the squibbing display has finished at approximately 8pm. Spectators are asked to arrive on foot where possible.
Spectators are being asked to stay away from the walking costume parade and the squibbing if they feel unwell, and to consider taking a lateral flow test before attending.
Virtual Carnival – ‘Through the Decades’ There is something for everyone with this year’s low key and symbolic celebrations, and a special virtual carnival is planned for those who would rather celebrate the carnival tradition from the comfort of their own homes.
Starting at 7pm, the two hour online virtual carnival titled ‘Through the Decades’ will feature 100 entries from Bridgwater Carnival processions held over the past 40 years, and carnival lovers from all around the world will be able to watch this special screening on their televisions, laptops, computers and devices. The virtual carnival project has been kindly sponsored by EDF’s Hinkley Point B power station, and is being made technically possible through the expertise of Maniac Films and Somerset Web Services.
Carnival organisers are hoping to raise money for the Bridgwater Carnival charity by asking viewers to make a donation when the ‘Through the Decades’ virtual carnival is broadcast. Making a donation is very simple and can be done in two ways – by clicking on the ‘donate’ button which is shown as viewers login to watch the live stream, or by texting the word BGFC to 70085 followed by one of the specified amounts £1, £2, £3, £4, £5, £10 or £20.
After the broadcast, the ‘Through the Decades’ virtual carnival can be rented for £4 or purchased for £8 from Bridgwater Carnival’s official Vimeo Channel. Official souvenir DVDs costing £10 plus postage and packing (P&P) are also available, along with 2022 calendars priced at £5 (+P&P), and these can be ordered from Bridgwater Carnival’s online shop, the Carnival Centre (High Street, Bridgwater), and from club members.
To watch the virtual carnival on the night, visit LIVE on the home page.
Sunday 7 November – Burnham-on-Sea
Grand Firework Display, 6.30pm, The Esplanade
This glittering fireworks display is organised by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council and starts at 6.30pm. It has proved popular in the past with spectators and has been well supported by people in and around the Sedgemoor area.
Monday 8 November – Burnham-on-Sea
Walking Costume Parade, 7pm
The Sedgemoor Masquerade Week closes with a walking costume parade at Burnham on Sea. The parade starts at 7pm and the route will run in an anti-clockwise direction around the streets of the town, and the entries will pass along Marine Drive, Highbridge Road, Abingdon Street and Old Station Approach, before finishing outside of Haven Holiday Park. Again, there will not be any carnival carts in the procession.
Spectators are being asked to stay away from the walking costume parade and the squibbing if they feel unwell, and to consider taking a lateral flow test before attending. Official Sedgemoor Masquerade Week souvenir programmes are available to buy for £1, and can be purchased during the nights of the various activities and from the Carnival Centre, High Street, Bridgwater.
Dave Croker, Chairman, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee, said: “Despite the fact that our carnival concerts and illuminated carnival processions which we know and love will not return to their full glory until 2022, it really is positive to be in a position to organise some much needed entertainment and enjoyment for the town.
“So many community events have been cancelled due to the Pandemic, and even though we will not have a single carnival cart in sight, these low key and symbolic activities which we are planning will hopefully put a smile back on all of our faces and help us prepare for the 2022 carnival season.”
Phil New, Chairman, Highbridge & Burnham-On-Sea Carnival Committee, added: “I am really looking forward to the week of activities, and now is the time to bring back a bit of normality to Sedgemoor.
“In Burnham, we dedicate this year’s grand costume parade to all of the key workers who have been on the front line throughout the pandemic, as well as all of the volunteers who have played a major supporting role”.
Cllr Leigh Redman, Mayor of Bridgwater, said: “Bridgwater Carnival means a lot to our town, it is a big part of our community, and as Mayor it gives me great pleasure to see some carnival related activities returning to our town this year. I cannot wait to see them, and I would like to thank all of the carnivalites involved for their tremendous efforts and dedication. Bridgwater is open for business, and Bridgwater Town Council is proud to support the carnival activities and the positive impact they have on our local economy.
Cllr Gill Slocombe, Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, added: “Our carnivals and their associated activities really help to put Sedgemoor firmly on the map. They also bring in many benefits to the area in terms of tourism and the local economy. I am delighted to see carnival events returning, albeit in a low key way after a difficult 18 months for us all, and I am really looking forward to our carnivalites entertaining the public once again.”
Carnival as we know it will return in 2022, with Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival planned for Saturday 5 November, and Highbridge and Burnham-On-Sea Carnival for Monday 7 November.