In the South West of England – centred on Somerset but taking in large parts of Devon, Dorset, Glocs and Wilts – there exists a centuries-old tradition of Illuminated Carnivals. Some are known as Guy Fawkes Carnivals because they date back to the celebrations associated with Guy Fawkes and the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.
Like the Bonfire Societies of the South East, these Carnivals are notable for the extensive community involvement in the fireworks celebration. The South West carnivals have the added dimension of their spectacular illuminated parades. Another unique celebration is the squibbing which takes place as part of the Bridgwater Carnival.
The degree of skill, effort and organisation which goes into creating these magnificent shows is singularly impressive and many now stage events well outside of the Guy Fawkes season either as a complement to or as a fundraiser for the main event.
Gremlins: Mickey’s Parade
All carnivals are independently organised by local clubs or committees but many are also associated with a Circuit, such as East Devon, South Somerset, Somerset County Guy Fawkes, etc. The illuminated floats will travel to different Carnivals, visiting each other’s events through the season.
Cavaliers: Polar Express
Mendip Vale: Fremont St
Clogs: Stars & Stripes
Cary Comedians: Cock Rock