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Encyclopedia > West Country Carnival
"Samurai" by Griffens CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
"Samurai" by Griffens CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
Front of "Ghost Ship (Deliver Us)" by Gremlins CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006. Winner of six prizes at Bridgwater 2006, including the "Hardy Spicer Cup" for the overall champion float
Front of "Ghost Ship (Deliver Us)" by Gremlins CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006. Winner of six prizes at Bridgwater 2006, including the "Hardy Spicer Cup" for the overall champion float

The West Country Carnival is an annual celebration featuring a parade of illuminated floats (termed "carts" locally), in the English West Country. The celebration dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Samurai_by_Griffens_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Samurai_by_Griffens_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_front_of_Ghost_Ship_(Deliver_Us)_by_Gremlins_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_front_of_Ghost_Ship_(Deliver_Us)_by_Gremlins_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... United States Marines on parade. ... A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... The West Country is an informal term for the area of south-western England roughly corresponding to the modern South West England government region. ... A contemporary sketch of the conspirators. ...


The series of parades in each town now form a major regional festival, and the largest light festival in Europe. Some carts cost in excess of £20,000 to build and are the result of thousands of man hours work throughout the year. For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade. ...


The event's purpose, as it has always been from the start, raises thousands of pounds for local charities from money collection carts in the two hour procession. This article is about charitable organizations. ...

Contents

History

The timing of the West Country Carnival close to the British celebration of Bonfire night is no coincidence, as the roots of the original carnival in Bridgwater date back to 1605 Bonfire Night can refer to a number of occasions: St. ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ... 1605 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ...


Guy Fawkes is the character most associated with the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, however the instigator was Jesuit priest Robert Parsons from Nether Stowey, a short distance from Bridgwater. Parsons and his colleagues were Catholics who wanted to put an end to the Protestant parliament of the day and hence they planned their ill-fated attempt on 5 November 1605. Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606), was a member of a group of English Roman Catholics who attempted to carry out the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I of England, to destroy Protestant rule by killing the Protestant... This may refer to the: British Houses of Parliament. ... Seal of the Society of Jesus. ... Robert Parsons (sometimes spelled Persons) (born June 24, 1546, Nether Stowey, Somerset, England, died April 15, 1610, Rome) was a Jesuit priest of equal contemporary fame with Edmund Campion. ... Nether Stowey is a small village in Somerset, South West England. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... is the 309th day of the year (310th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1605 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ...


Bonfire night is a major annual celebration across the whole of the United Kingdom, but it is likely that the reason that the West Country Carnival was originally so keenly celebrated is that the South West towns were predominantly Protestant - hence the celebration of Robert Parsons' (and Guy Fawkes') failure. The religious origins of the event are almost forgotten and far less significant today Bonfire Night can refer to a number of occasions: St. ... The West Country is an informal term for the area of south-western England roughly corresponding to the modern South West England government region. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... Robert Parsons (sometimes spelled Persons) (born June 24, 1546, Nether Stowey, Somerset, England, died April 15, 1610, Rome) was a Jesuit priest of equal contemporary fame with Edmund Campion. ...


Bridgwater

"Umoja" by Vagabonds CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
"Umoja" by Vagabonds CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006

The original Bridgwater celebrations consisted of a large bonfire at the Cornhill. Built out of a large wooden boat, around one hundred tar barrels where added, together with just about anything else available which could be burned. This tradition was stopped due to lack of old wooden boats to burn, and because a number of good boats were thrown onto the fire and burnt by over-enthusiastic revellers Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Umoja_by_Vagabonds_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Umoja_by_Vagabonds_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ...


Effigies or "guys" representing the gunpowder plot instigators were added to the fire by local groups of people known as gangs. It would seem it was these gangs who started the trend towards a procession, as they paraded their guys towards the bonfire. As years passed by, the tradition was continued and the annual celebration became more and more elaborate, involving costumes and music, until the key feature of the event was a large carnival procession.


The local people who dressed up and took part in the event were known as "Masqueraders" or "Features" - terms still used today to describe the parade participants.


There were no parades during World War II, but a local carnival enthusiast Ted Lockyer walked the carnival route for six years to keep the tradition going. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Squibbing

In addition to the carnival procession, the tradition of "squibbing" still occurs after the procession ends. A squib locally is a firework which is held aloft by a person known as a "squibber" on the end of a long wooden handle called a "cosh". One hundred squibbers stand in line in Bridgwater town centre making an unusual but impressive sight for visitors who crowd the High Street. A squib is a small explosive device which has a wide range of uses, such as generating mechanical forces as well as in pyrotechnic use. ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ...


Originally the squibs were made specially for Bridgwater Carnival and were known as the Bridgwater Squib, which culminated with a large bang as each squib extinguishes. With modern Health and Safety concerns, it has become difficult to purchase squibs with a bang, and due of rising insurance costs the present day squib's used have no bang.


Lines of flammable liquid are also run along the ground by the squibbers and lit to add more to the spectacle. Visitors often think the whole sight looks a little dangerous, but the event is well organised and nobody has been hurt to date.


In 2007, 170 squibs where lit.


Modern times

Dragon on "Ice Warz" by Pentathlon CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006

The Bridgwater carnival is believed to be the largest illuminated carnival in Europe, if not the world.[1] It first modernised in 1881 and was originally lit by lamps; electric lights were first introduced in 1913. Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Dragon_on_Ice_Warz_by_Pentathlon_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Dragon_on_Ice_Warz_by_Pentathlon_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Year 1881 (MDCCCLXXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...


Bridgwater carnival now consists of a display of over 100 large vehicles up to 100 feet (30 m) long, festooned with dancers and up to 22,000 lightbulbs, that follows a 2.5 mile (4.5 km) route over two to three hours. 2005 included the "Masquerade 2000" entrants from Notting Hill Carnival, which it is hoped will become an annual entry. The official web site[1] contains photos and video clips. Participant in Notting Hill Carnival parade Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event which takes place in Notting Hill, London, England each August, over two days (Sunday and the following bank holiday). ...


Bridgwater now attracts around 150,000 people from around the West Country, UK and globally. Parking from the M5 is well sign posted and plentiful, and managed by the committee in association with Avon and Somerset Police. Public access Grandstands were introduced in the mid 1990s, which have increased in popularity over recent years: 2003 and 2004 being sold out by mid/late October. Since 2004 there have been 10 grandstands, with seating numbered and having some cover against the potential of inclement weather. The stand locations in 2006 were Broadway East (8) and Broadway West (2). Motorway symbol in UK, France and Ireland. ... Avon & Somerset Constabulary is a police force in England covering the county of Somerset and the districts of South Gloucestershire, Bristol, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset; these districts were the now defunct county of Avon hence the forces name. ...


The event's purpose, as it has always been from the start, is to raise money for local charities from money collection carts in the procession.


Carnival concert

The carnival concert takes place in the weeks leading up to the carnival. At these concerts, carnival clubs perform on stage wearing their costumes and using pieces of scenery taken from their carts. After being poorly patronised for a period, the carnival concert has become a highly popular attraction in recent years, with tickets to see the event in a Bridgwater hall selling out very quickly - partly due to increased publicity, and partly as the popularity of the carnival increases it is an easy access way to see the carnival over more days


Calendar and controversy

"YÁN HUÓ" by Masqueraders CC. Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
"YÁN HUÓ" by Masqueraders CC. Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006

The Bridgwater carnival had traditionally been held on Bonfire night, or November 5th. This was then formalised in 1919 post World War I, as the carnival circuits were formed to be held on the first Thursday of November - Thursday was traditionally early closing day for shops in Bridgwater. Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_YÁN_HUÓ_by_Masqueraders_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_YÁN_HUÓ_by_Masqueraders_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ... Bonfire Night can refer to a number of occasions: St. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... “The Great War ” redirects here. ...


Local Government Authorities and Businesses were keen to the reschedule the event to a weekend date - presumably to make it more convenient for visitors to attend. This met strong resistance from many locals who believe the tradition of so many years should be maintained, and from others who are concerned that the new timing could affect the ability of clubs to participate in other local carnival processions - North Petherton carnival has traditionally taken place on the following Saturday. The new timing would also spoil another local tradition known as Black Friday where locals celebrate their hard work on carnival in an alcoholic manner North Petherton is a small town in Somerset, England, situated on the edge of the eastern foothills of the Quantocks, and close to the edge of the Somerset Levels. ...


However, accepting that shops and work times in the present have changed greatly and the local economic business need, the Bridgwater Carnival Committee decided, not without much controversy, to move the Carnival to a Friday with effect from 2001. This was part of a strategy to keep the carnival alive in the long term, with the committee working with Sedgemoor District Council to provide entertainment for visitors from midday on Carnival day. It is hoped that as a result of the changed date many visitors will come earlier and stay longer, perhaps taking in some of the other Carnivals and entertainment provided locally. Sedgemoor is a local government district of Somerset in England. ...


The carnival circuit

"Samba Carnival" by Harlequin CC, Burnham on Sea 2006

The Bridgwater carnival was the first carnival of its type, however other carnival processions within the South West began some years ago. They start in late August and continue until late November. The oldest and largest circuit is the Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnival Association Circuit which starts at Bridgwater, with many of the carts will appear in all of the carnivals. Prizes are awarded in several categories for the best carts in each carnival. Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Samba_Carnival_by_Harlequin_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Samba_Carnival_by_Harlequin_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ...


The three circuits are:

There is one unofficial carnival in the circuit, held at Midsomer Norton on the Thursday between the Shepton Mallet and Wells carnivals. There are also a series of unofficial Christmas carnivals, including Sidmouth. The water mill on the River Stour, seen from the town bridge. ... For other places with the same name, see Trowbridge (disambiguation). ... A mere is a Maori war club about 12 inches (30 cm) in length. ... Frome (pronounced ) is a medium-sized town in Somerset, England, near the Mendip Hills. ... For other uses, see Shaftesbury (disambiguation) Shaftesbury is a town in North Dorset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Wiltshire border 20 miles west of Salisbury. ... Gillingham is a town in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset, England. ... The market hall Castle Cary is a village in south Somerset, England, five miles north west of Wincanton and eight miles south of Shepton Mallet. ... Wincanton is a town in south Somerset, southwest England. ... This article is about the English town. ... For the first Duke of Wellington, see Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. ... Ilminster is a quiet country town in the countryside of south west Somerset, England, with a population of 4,781[1]. Bypassed a few years ago, the town now lies just east of the intersection of the A303 (London to Exeter) and the A358 (Taunton to Chard and Axminster). ... Map sources for Chard at grid reference ST3208 Chard is a town in the county of Somerset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Devon border, 15 miles south west of Yeovil. ... Taunton is the county town of Somerset, England. ... , Yeovil is a town in south Somerset, England, on the A30 and A37. ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ... North Petherton is a small town in Somerset, England, situated on the edge of the eastern foothills of the Quantocks, and close to the edge of the Somerset Levels. ... Burnham-on-Sea is a town in Somerset, England, at the mouth of the River Parrett. ... , Shepton Mallet is a small rural town in Somerset, England. ... For other uses, see Wells (disambiguation). ... Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset, England, situated at a dry spot on the Somerset Levels, 50km (31 miles) south of Bristol. ... Weston-super-Mare is an English seaside resort town in North Somerset, population 65,000 (1991 estimate). ... Norton Radstock is a small conurbation and large civil parish in Bath and North East Somerset, England, 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Bath, and the same distance north west of Frome. ... For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ... Location within the British Isles Sidmouth Arms of Sidmouth Town Council Sidmouth is a small town of 14,400 on the east Devon coast in south west England about 15 miles south east of Exeter. ...


Carts and floats

Uniquely in the West Country, the vehicles are called carnival "carts", unlike other carnivals where the term carnival float is used. The term "cart" is still used today to describe the large and elaborate trailers used in the procession. Carts are built by local clubs of individuals funded totally by charitable donations and sponsorship from local businesses. This article describes the festival season. ...


Carts are always themed, with no restriction on the theme from the organising committee. Regularly chosen themes include:

  • Popular children's books - like Alice in Wonderland
  • Favourite children's characters - such as Disney characters
  • Scenes or themes from history - like Pre-Historic, Victorian or famous Battles
  • Scenes or themes from around the world - such as Australia, Rio de Janeiro or Spanish
  • Travel and transport - such as cars or trains, e.g. The Chattanooga Cho-Cho
  • Popular themes of the day - including pop songs or dances
  • The future or exploration - such as space
"Englands Glory" by Crusaders CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
"Englands Glory" by Crusaders CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006

Carts include both music and costumed people to complete their theme. People and items on the cart can either be moving, or static in tableau format - the later being difficult to hold position for on a cold November evening. Alice in Wonderland is the widely known and used title for Alices Adventures in Wonderland, a book written by Lewis Carroll -- as well as several movie adaptations of the book -- and is also the setting for several short stories. ... Disney may refer to: The Walt Disney Company and its divisions, including Walt Disney Pictures. ... Queen Victoria (shown here on the morning of her ascension to the Throne, 20 June 1837) gave her name to the historic era The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. ... For other uses, see Battle (disambiguation). ... This article is about the Brazilian city. ... Depending on context, pop music is either an abbreviation of popular music or, more recently, a term for a sub-genre of it. ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Englands_Glory_by_Crusaders_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Englands_Glory_by_Crusaders_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): West Country Carnival ... Tableau vivant, Folies Bergères c. ...


Today these carts are driven by farmers' tractors, and usually also tow a large diesel driven electricity generator to provide the huge amount of power required to power the carts. Some generators used can provide over a megawatt of power, with 10,000 to 30,000 light bulbs not uncommon on a modern day cart. The tractors themselves are often decorated to match the rest of the cart and generator, and in some cases modified so that the driver is positioned low down between the two front wheels. This allows for a higher degree of decoration without obscuring the driver's view. The length of the entire cart is often built to the maximum allowable of 100 feet (30 m). The megawatt (symbol: MW) is a unit for measuring power corresponding to one million (106) watts. ...


Carnival clubs

Carts or floats are built by local clubs, which as local charities themselves are aimed specifically and solely at raising funds for other charities which operate within their locality. Clubs generate all funds required to build and operate their carts totally by charitable donations from individuals and sponsorship from local businesses - all funds raised during the carnival season are wholly distributed by the club charity. Some carts cost in excess of £20,000 to build and are the result of thousands of man-hours work throughout the year. Most clubs are based around local working or social circles, such as pubs and clubs. Many clubs have specialist Juvenile Carnival clubs for the under 18s. To join an adult 18 and over club, an initiation ceremony is often involved. All work is carried out in the spare time of the club members on a voluntary basis - often working all night in the final few days to get carts ready. Allegorical personification of Charity as a mother with three infants by Anthony van Dyck Charity, meaning selfless giving, is one conventional English translation of the Greek term agapÄ“. // Etymology In the 1400, charity meant the state of love or simple affection which one was in or out of regarding one...


At the end of the carnival season, many think that that the work is over until the next year - but for the Carnivalites, the season never ends. Before Christmas new club officers are voted in for the following year, and by the end of January the idea for next year has already been chosen and plans are being made. Then the fund-raising begins: bars, buffets, race nights, bingo nights, anything to keep raising funds. For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ...


It is surprising with all the expense that anyone pulls out a cart or puts on a show at all, but that’s where the spirit of Carnival comes into play. Being a member of such an organisation not only gives plenty to do in members' spare time and an excellent social life, but the sense of pride when everything comes together for the opening night of concerts or the feeling members get when they pull the cart out of the shed on carnival day.

Genghis Khan by Wick CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006
Genghis Khan by Wick CC, Burnham on Sea Carnival 2006

Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Genghis_Khan_by_Wick_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Bridgwater Float (parade) West Country Carnival ... Image File history File links Burnham_on_Sea_Carnival_2006_-_Genghis_Khan_by_Wick_CC.jpg‎ File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Bridgwater Float (parade) West Country Carnival ...

List of carnival clubs

The following is a list of major carnival clubs and their home town locations:

Tableau vivant, Folies Bergères c. ... Ilminster is a quiet country town in the countryside of south west Somerset, England, with a population of 4,781[1]. Bypassed a few years ago, the town now lies just east of the intersection of the A303 (London to Exeter) and the A358 (Taunton to Chard and Axminster). ... This article is about the county of Somerset in England. ... Coleford is a village in Somerset, England, situated on the Mells River in the Mendip Hills five miles west of Frome. ... Tatworth is a place near Chard in south Somerset. ... Map sources for Chard at grid reference ST3208 Chard is a town in the county of Somerset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Devon border, 15 miles south west of Yeovil. ... Year 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... , Bridgwater in Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoor district, and the leading industrial town in the county. ... This article describes the festival season. ... Festivals in the United Kingdom is a link page for any established festival or carnival in any part of the United Kingdom. ... This is a list of topics related to the United Kingdom. ...

References

  • "Remember Remember". The Story of Bridgwater Carnival, written by Chris Hocking who is president of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee
  • Somerset Carnivals: A Celebration of 400 Years, Roger Evans & Peter Nichols, ISBN 1-84114-483-5
  • "Bridgwater with and without the 'e' " ', Roger Evans, ISBN 0-9525674-0-7
  • A History of Bridgwater, J.C. Lawrence, ISBN 1-86077-363-X
  • Bridgwater Victorian Days, Philip James Squibbs, ISBN 0-9501022-1-0
  • Somerset in the Age of Steam, Peter Stanier, ISBN 0-86183-481-X

External links


 
 

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