FAQ: Bridgwater Carnival

Later this week, the town of Bridgwater in Somerset will hold one of the most flamboyant Bonfire Night celebrations in the world. Below are some answers to common questions about the procession.

Pentathlon Carnival Club’s cart “Ceremonial Barge of the Dragon Emperor” from 2009’s procession.

What is the Bridgwater Carnival?

The Bridgwater Carnival is the world’s biggest illuminated carnival featuring over 100 entries made up of walking groups and huge floats with many moving part and great choreography and costumes, originally celebrating the downfall of Guy Fawkes and his failure to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

When is the Bridgwater Carnival held?

It is held on the Friday nearest to 5th November, Bonfire Night, starting at 7pm.

When was the first Bridgwater Carnival?

The celebrations began in 1605 with bonfires and later the unique Bridgwater squibs were added in 1716. The first cart built for the procession was in 1902 and in the following year, electric light bulbs were added to the carts. In 1948, horses were replaced by tractors to pull the carts and this is how the carnival remains today.

What is the procession route?

The participants will assemble in Parkway and the procession route will end in Broadway.

How long does the procession last?

The procession tends to last two and half to three hours though this can vary due to carts breaking down causing gaps in the proceedings.

How big are the carts?

The carts can vary in size from being small trailers to huge 100 foot long floats with over 25,000 light bulbs.

How much money is raised?

In 2009 over £24,000 was raised.

Where does the money raised go to?

It is split between local charities including the Bridgwater Rotary Club, SNAP, Wellington and Taunton Young Farmers, Bridgwater Lions International, St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice and British Red Cross (Bridgwater Branch).

What is squibbing?

Squibbing is a long held tradition seen nowhere else! It involves two lines of over 100 people, usually from the carnival clubs involved in the precession, holding aloft a squib at the end of a ‘cosh’ and lighting up the street with a shower of sparks.


Squibbing at Bridwater Carnival. Copywright Phil Williams and licensed for reuse.

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