Bridgwater Carnival and the ancient art of squibbing

02 Oct 2019

Bridgwater is famous for its carnival with the annual procession regarded as the largest, most spectacular, illuminated procession in Europe. 

Around 50 carts, some as long as 100 foot, are accompanied by bands and masqueraders as they wend their way along the 1.7 mile route through the town. It takes several hours for all the entries to pass a given point. The biggest carts can have as many as 25,000 lights decorating the elaborate moving sets that surround the gyrating characters on board.

Held on the first Saturday in November, the parade is heralded the night before by one of the largest firework displays in the south west, which is fitting since the event has its origins in the town’s celebrations at the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. King James 1 decreed that celebrations should take the form of bonfires and the town was happy to oblige.

On carnival day, the fun starts early as the town centre is filled with music from three stages and street performers entertain the whole family. Excitement builds as darkness gathers and the carts line up for the parade. The evening ends with a unique display of more than 170 simultaneously lit handheld fireworks known as squibbing.

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Bridgwater Carnival and the ancient art of squibbing
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