West Country Illuminated Carnivals - brightening up November


West Country Illuminated Carnivals - brightening up November

The West Country Carnival Circuits are an annual celebration featuring a parade of illuminated carts in Somerset. The celebration dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and takes place over several weeks in November. The purpose is to raise money for local charities.

The principal component of the carnival is a procession of illuminated floats (or carts) - some of which are huge and complicated, with many moving parts. These depict scenes or themes from history and popular culture, with costumed performers on board, usually dancing to the float's chosen theme song, or sometimes depicting a static tableau. Some carts cost over £40,000 to build and are the result of thousands of hours work throughout the year, usually by teams linked to pubs, farms or organisations.

Common themes are pirates, ghost trains, androids, ancient empires, etc. suggested by the chosen song or music. The procession takes place in the evening and usually takes two or three hours to pass. There are usually 40 or more floats.

The small Somerset town of Bridgwater is considered the epicentre of the circuit, but the same floats also visit other towns and villages in the area, including Wells, Weston-super-Mare, Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury. The annual procession is regarded as the largest, most spectacular, illuminated procession in Europe.

Unfortunately, due to Covid, the spectacle has been postponed to 2022.

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