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Bridgwater Carnival 2019 - everything you need to know

The unique practice of 'Squibbing' which takes place after the carnival procession

This weekend's Bridgwater Carnival starts an hour earlier at 6pm and involves a trial allowing spectators to make £3 contactless donations using bank cards.

Last year £18,242 was shared between 50 charities, community groups, clubs and not-for-profit organisations.

Activities get underway on Friday night with the firework display in St Matthew's Field at 7.30pm.

The build-up starts at 3pm with family activities and fairground rides.

School children will take part in a special lantern parade from 7pm, leaving the Bridgwater YMCA.

Mike Crocker, president for Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, said: "It is terrific news that we are once again able to hold a grand fireworks display on carnival night eve - it will get the town in the mood for what is to come the following night."

Tommy Banner, accordionist and vocalist with The Wurzels, is taking part in Saturday's carnival procession.

It'll be the third time Tommy has taken part in the carnival, after previously appearing in the town’s 2004 and 2006 event. He is often seen in the crowds supporting the events.

He said: "I believe Bridgwater Carnival is the best illuminated carnival procession in the world, and since I arrived in the West Country in 1967, you can count on one hand the number of times I have missed the carnival.

This year there's nearly 100 entries, including 50 illuminated carnival carts and many walking entries.

At approximately 10pm more than 150 squibbers will line the town’s High Street for the traditional squibbing display.

Park and Ride charges are £6 per car plus £1 per adult travelling. Children under 16 are free. All park and ride sites will close at midnight.

For the second successive year spectators can become judges and vote for their personal favourite entry. Bridgwater Carnival are using the CarniApp for the coveted 'People’s Choice Award'.

The i2i Infinity Limited app is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, and votes can be cast between the hours of 6pm on carnival day to midday on Sunday November 3.

Carnival facts, did you know?

  • Carnival floats in Bridgwater were originally constructed on hay carts or log carts. The name of ‘cart’ has stuck!
  • Studies have concluded that Bridgwater Carnival is worth an estimated £4 million annually to the local economy - £2 million during the weekend of the carnival and a further £2 million from carnival related activities throughout the year.
  • The six judging categories for the carts taking part in Bridgwater Carnival are: 1) presentation and general effect, 2) stillness, routine or comedy content, 3) lighting, 4) costume and make up, 5) cart build up, 6) music appropriateness. There are 4 judging categories for the walking entries: 1) general effect and entertainment value, 2) costume and make up, 3) presentation and routine, 4) ingenuity.
  • 7,000 kilowatts of electricity powered the entries taking part in last year's carnival procession.
  • In 1903 the first electric light bulb was used on an entry in the Bridgwater Carnival procession. Now the majority of the mounted entries have moved away from the traditional light bulbs and are using environmentally friendly LEDs (light emitting diode) to illuminate their spectacular entries.
  • The origins of Bridgwater Carnival can be traced back to the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators failed in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Maybe it was because Bridgwater was staunchly protestant in those days that the townsfolk celebrated with greater vigour than anywhere else, creating a tradition of widespread merrymaking on the annual anniversary of the fifth. Or maybe it was just an excuse to enjoy an evening of fun around the bonfire before the long, cold nights of winter really set in.
  • After years of informal annual celebrations, the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee was formed in 1881 containing just 15 people. Nowadays the committee boasts over 80 members.
  • The Queen and Prince Philip were presented with a 1986 carnival video by the then carnival president, Bill Holland, after the Royal couple visited Bridgwater in 1987.
  • The route the carnival procession takes is just over 1.7 miles long and it takes two hours to pass any one viewing point.
  •  All carnival committee and carnival club members are volunteers, and it is estimated over 2,000 people will be involved with the organisation and the entries for Bridgwater Carnival 2019.
  • The procession route is split into 8 different zones for judging purposes and 82 judges are on duty on Bridgwater Carnival night having a big say on where the 37 cups on offer are awarded.

On carnival day itself the build-up to the grand procession starts in the town centre at 10am. Early visitors will be entertained by a variety of acts including Jordan Hill, Two Tone, Ashley Ross Quinn, Krazy Kev & Dinky and the Magnolia Jazz Band.

There will also be a children’s dance parade through the town centre in the afternoon.

After the event a large clean-up takes place. A spokesperson for Sedgemoor Council said: "The largest contribution from the council is the mammoth clear up that happens overnight, so that the town is restored to a pristine condition by 7 a.m. on the morning following the parade.

"Starting about 0200 hrs, when the last revellers are going home, a dedicated team of about twenty staff sweep and collect what has been left by the 150,000 spectators.  

"The estimated cost for this is about £5,000 in Bridgwater that covers staff time, vehicles, bags and the cost of disposing of all those glasses, cans and food wrappers.  

"It usually takes about seven and a half hours to clean the two and half-mile route in Bridgwater and a little longer if it is very windy as the rubbish blows about."

For more details click here

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