The History of Bridgwater Carnival
The history of Bridgwater Carnival dates back to the 1605 gunpowder plot, when Guy Fawkes failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Bridgwater takes its Carnival seriously, the origins are lost in time but journalistic records refer to the event in the 1860's. The Carnival became officially recognised in 1881.
The event starts in early October when local clubs present a Carnival Concert which has a two week run at the Bridgwater Town Hall. This event is a sell out and provides much needed revenue to support the local carnival clubs, who in early November stage what is probably the largest illuminated carnival in the world. Each Carnival Club is made up of volunteers who work hard all year round to put the carnival on, the event attracts people from all over the country with many being transported in by special coaches or trains.
The evening finishes with the annual squibbing display, this is unique to Bridgwater. The squibs are let off the length of the Bridgwater High Street, when over 140 squibs are let off simultaneously in the air at arms reach, they are held up by carnival club members on a specially built cosh. Originally the squibs were made especially for Bridgwater Carnival and were known as the Bridgwater Squib, these culminated with a large bang as each squib extinguishes. Unfortunately with the demise of the firework it has become difficult to purchase squibs with a bang, so today's squib has no bang, but the display remains as spectacular as ever.
The Carnival is very expensive to stage, the amount an entry can win does not compensate for the cost of building it. A street collection is made to provide the participants and local charities with funds.
You are asked to dig deep into your pockets and give generously in order that the Carnival can continue to thrive and the Charities can support their worthy causes.
This display - unique to Bridgwater - follows the carnival procession. In 2005 - the 400th anniversary of the "Gunpowder Plot" - we had a record number of squibbers who filled the length of the High Street. We had a special squib for the anniversary and it proved very spectacular, changing colour near the end. We shall be using the same squib in 2006. The squibs are tied on to wooden coshes lit from a flame in the road and all held aloft at arms length at the same time. It makes a truly magnificent end to the Bridgwater Carnival festivities.
Further information on this year’s carnival can be found at Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.