CARNIVAL: The official A to Z of Bridwater Carnival
BRIDGWATER Carnival is fast approaching and clubs are busily putting the finishing touches to their 2018 creations.
And the Carnival Committee is also hard at work making sure the event on Saturday, November 3, is another fun-packed day and night of enjoyment for all the family.
Here for the Carnival fan and novice is an A to Z of Bridgwater Carnival:
A – Arts Council England: A grant for £32,125 has been awarded for the 2018 Bridgwater Carnival celebrations by the Government funded body, who has the responsibility of distributing money from the Government and National Lottery to the development of arts in England.
B - Bridgwater: The home of Carnival: Journalistic records shows it can be traced back to 1847 making Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival the oldest event of its kind in the United Kingdom. It has the reputation for being one of the largest illuminated processions in the world.
C - Carts: Carnival floats in Bridgwater were originally constructed on hay carts or log carts. The name of ‘cart’ has stuck!
D - Daytime entertainment: This year over 30 street entertainers, musicians and bands will be warming the crowds up in the town centre on carnival day as the anticipation grows for the main procession. The daytime entertainment starts at 10am and includes an appearance by award winning Arcadia Spectacular who will be presenting their unique creation The Bug in the High Street just before the carnival procession arrives.
E – Economy: The local economy benefits greatly from the activities of Bridgwater Carnival, and many local eateries, pubs and shops report record takings on the day the carnival comes to town. Various research projects and 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.
F – Features: The all singing, all dancing, all moving style of carnival entry.
G - Gangs and Features: Bridgwater Gangs and Features is an organisation for the town’s carnival clubs and is separate to Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee. Full member clubs include: British Flag CC, Cavaliers CC, Centurion CC, Crusaders CC, Gremlins CC, Griffens CC, Lime Kiln CC, Marketeers CC, Ramblers CC, Renegades CC, Vagabonds CC, Wills CC and YMCA CC. Associate members are: Marina Sydenham Juvenile CC, Newmarket CC, Pentathlon CC, Toppers CC and Wilfs CC.
H - Hardy Spicer Championship: Annually presented to the local Bridgwater carnival club with the greatest number of points in the procession and carnival concert. It was first presented in 1952 as the Hardy Spicer Challenge Cup.
I – Information: Bridgwater Carnival’s continued popularity in recent times has been partly due to its strong social media presence and the role it plays in providing up to date information to its many supporters. Bridgwater Carnival’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts have over 4,700 followers and over 8,000 likes respectively.
J – Judging: 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.
K – Kilowatts: 8,000 kilowatts of electricity will power the entries taking part in this year's carnival procession.
L – Lights: 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.
M – Monies: Over the last 20 years Bridgwater Carnival related activities have raised over £504,357 for the official Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival charity and other local supported charities. At Bridgwater Carnival 2018, over 350 collectors from 38 different charities will be on the streets and are expected to collect over 500,000 coins.
N – November: 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. Whatever the reason, those celebrations have now grown into the magnificent spectacle we know today. Bridgwater Carnival always takes place on the first Saturday in November.
O – Organisation: After years of informal annual celebrations, the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee was formed in 1881 containing just 15 people, and held the first ‘official’ Carnival on Monday 7 November. Nowadays the committee boasts over 80 members.
P - People’s Choice: Bridgwater Carnival organisers have this year partnered with i2i Infinity Limited to launch a new award for 2018 – The People’s Choice. By using the CarniApp (available for Android and iOS Apple devices), members of the public can vote for their favourite entry from Bridgwater Carnival 2018. Voting will take place between 7pm until 11pm on carnival night, and the results will be announced later in the evening.
Q – Queen: 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.
R – Route: The route the Carnival procession takes is just over 1.7 miles long and it takes 2 hours to pass any one viewing point.
S – Squibs: Giant fireworks originally made in homes throughout the town but now produced to a secret formula by leading firework manufacturers, especially for Bridgwater Carnival. Because of their size, the squibs are tied to poles (coshes) and, once lit, are held above the squibbers head until the firework extinguishes. Nowadays a simultaneous squibbing display is held in the town’s High Street immediately after the parade when upwards of 150 squibs are ignited at the same time creating a marvellous, unique display. The first recorded evidence of squibbing in Bridgwater was back in 1716.
T – Tableaux: Entries where cast members stand or pose completely still, creating a picture which depicts their chosen theme.
U – Unveiling: 2018 sees the 13th anniversary of the formal unveiling of the carnival squibber statue in the centre of Bridgwater. Watching over the High Street as people go about their daily lives, the statue has become synonymous with carnival lovers from all over the world.
V – Volunteers: All Carnival committee and Carnival club members are volunteers, and it is estimated over 2,000 people are involved with the organisation and the entries at Bridgwater Carnival 2018.
W – Website: Bridgwater Carnival’s official website (www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk) is sponsored by Somerset Web Services and continues to go from strength to strength. In the last 12 months, the site has received 195,445 hits, including 9,701 from computer users living in America, 666 from France, 461 from Azerbaijan, 406 from Spain, 363 from Germany, 291 from Australia, and 231 from Canada. In the last month a total of 8,679 videos have been watched from the website’s comprehensive film catalogue, with the highest number of views being for
1) the 2018 Bridgwater Carnival promotional film (2,232 views).
2) Marketeers CC’s 2017 entry The Locker (190 views).
3) Gremlins CC’s historic entry from 2006 Ghost Ship (183 views).
X – Xanadu: In 1976 Marketeers CC were one of the first carnival clubs from Somerset asked to take their entry Xanadu to represent Bridgwater Carnival at the following year’s Easter Parade in London’s Battersea Park.
Y - Yankee Doodle Dandee: Crown Inn CC’s 1948 entry Yankee Doodle Dandee was significant in the history of Bridgwater Carnival as it was the last competitive entry to use horses to pull a cart in the procession. The two shire horses used were covered almost entirely with flowers and were illuminated by electric lights.
Z – Zones: The procession route is split into 8 different zones for judging purposes and 79 judges are on duty on Bridgwater Carnival night having a big say on where the 37 cups on offer are awarded.