With under ten days until the carnival returns to town on Saturday 4 November, the final countdown has begun to Bridgwater Carnival 2023.
For the carnival clubs who are working on their spectacular entries around the clock, to the carnival organisers who are finalising the arrangements for Bridgwater’s biggest night of the year, preparations are in full swing for the UK’s oldest carnival.
Bridgwater Carnival’s origins lie in the failed exploits of Guy Fawkes, and in this, the 418 th anniversary of these Gunpowder Plot celebrations, Bridgwater Carnival 2023 is set to illuminate the town’s streets once again.
This year’s carnival celebrations are testament to the town’s dedicated carnivalites and the invaluable support received from Arts Council England, the procession main sponsor, EDF’s Hinkley Point C, and many other local businesses and organisations.
On carnival day itself, the build up to the grand procession starts in the town centre at 10:30am with a full programme of street entertainment for the revellers who come into the town early.
The carnival procession will start at 6pm, and will consist of nearly 100 entries. Over 45 illuminated carnival carts and many other walking entries will enthral the tens of thousands of people from throughout the UK who are expected to line the route.
The entertainment will be brought to a fitting finale when approximately 200 squibbers line the town’s High Street immediately after the procession for the traditional squibbing display.
Dave Stokes, Publicity Director of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, said: “Saturday 4 November is the night the carnival comes to town, and we couldn’t be more excited. This is a night when everyone can forget all of their troubles for a few hours, marvel at the incredible sights, and get carried away by the infectious atmosphere.
“I am sure everyone will have a great night at the carnival in Bridgwater, the home of carnival”.
Official charity collectors will be on the streets on the day and night, and carnival organisers are hoping to beat last year’s collection total of £30,100 – the third highest amount ever collected at Bridgwater Carnival. As well as the official Bridgwater Carnival charity, the authorised collectors, who will be identifiable through unique identity badges, will be raising monies for 34 other local charities and organisations.
There are three ways in which spectators can donate:-
o CASH – Look for the official collection buckets and collecting carts.
o TEXT – Text BGFC to 70085 to donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.
o ONLINE – Visit Bridgwater Carnival’s official website and make a donation by clicking the DONATE button.
For those who are unable to make it into Bridgwater on the big night, the carnival is also being streamed live. Viewers can tune in from 6pm on the night, with the procession coming into range of the Cornhill positioned cameras at about 7pm. Online viewers will need internet access to watch the stream, and in return are asked to consider making an donation to the Bridgwater Carnival charity. To find out more about the live stream service and to watch it, visit the Live Page.
All of the main roads leading into the town will start closing from 4pm. On the day, Buses of Somerset will be offering a Park and Ride service from junctions 23 and 24 of the M5. The cost will be £16 per car and £25 per mini bus (fare covers all passengers), and the service will operate between 2pm and 11:30pm.
Official car parking is available at the following locations: ASDA, Bridgwater Hospital, Blake (Northgate), Wickes, Morrisons, B&M, West Quay, Polden Bower School, St Matthew’s Field, and Bridgwater and Taunton College. Parking in these car parks cost £10 per car and £20 for minibuses, and more information is available below and on Bridgwater Carnival’s official website. There is also an official viewing area on the procession route for wheelchair users. Spaces are limited, and to book a reservation or for further information please email Disabled Viewing
No spectators will be allowed to stand and watch the carnival procession on the Broadway / St Mary’s Street corner. This is because the Taunton Road junction will remain live and open during the procession.
Gill Slocombe, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee’s Somerset Council Representative, and councillor for Bridgwater Town Council, added: “We are all very proud of Bridgwater Carnival and its esteemed history. It brings so many benefits to the local area and the economy, not just during the carnival weekend but all of the way through the year.
“Carnival allows people to learn new skills and competences, and these very talented carnivalites have been working tirelessly over the past 12 months to bring the greatest show on earth to the town on Saturday 4 November 2023. I am really looking forward to it, and as we look to the future we must do all we can to ensure the town’s carnival tradition continues to survive, thrive and prosper.”