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Bridgwater Carnival

Gangs and masqueraders prepare floats for Guy Fawkes Night and the procession culminates in the unusual act of squibbing.

News 1973 34 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive

Overview

Annual Guy Fawkes celebrations featuring a parade of illuminated floats commemorate the thwarted Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Bridgwater use to hold a huge bonfire at the Cornhill but there now stands a statue holding a squib. The tradition of lighting squibs or giant fireworks on sticks occurs after the procession and squibbing – now an official and safely organised squibfest – attracts many visitors to the after dark celebrations. Prize money is on offer for the best floats.

Bridgwater Carnival was revived in 1847 and became the second largest in the UK. In 1883 the new crossing over the River Parrett was officially opened on 5th November sealing the civic importance of the carnival. By the turn of the twentieth century a carnival committee was set up and today the Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnivals’ Association holds competitions in Burnham on Sea, North Petherton, Shepton Mallet, Glastonbury, Weston super Mare, Midsomer Norton, Wells and Bridgwater and a series of concerts help fundraise for local charities. Among the strict rules for entrants are respecting copyright, decency and diversity with an absolute ban on counter marching.