The Clubs

The Fair, which has been held in the town since 1249, takes place in the last week of September for 4 days and takes over the whole of West Street and St Matthews Field. It started out as a livestock fair for trading stock, the first day still is, but in modern times has evolved into a spectacle of modern machinery and lights, with side shows, stalls, merry-go-rounds and fairground rides that will un-nerve even the most hardened thrill seekers.

St Matthews Fair


This year see Bridgwater celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Gun Powder Plot - come and join us!

The front of the Gremlins C.C. Cart 1999Bridgwater Carnival, probably the largest illuminated carnival in the world, is held around the 5th November each year, and will this year (2005) be the 400th year of carnival. The countdown has begun.

The origins of Bridgwater Carnival date back to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. The local link with the plot involves Robert Parsons who was the mastermind behind the whole scheme. The failure of the plot was met with celebrations which have evolved over the years into the Carnival as we know it today.

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 100 squibs are let off simultaneously in the air at arms reach, they are held up by Carnival Club members on a specially built cosh.

Neil Priddle of Cavaliers C.C., Squib Winner in 2000Originally the squibs were made specially 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 and is well worth witnessing.

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 on the day to provide the participants and local charities with funds.

More information on each of the Bridgwater Clubs can be found here or information on this and many other carnivals can be found at The Carnival Chronicle

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