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For most of England, Bonfire Night might be all about gunpowder, treason and plot — and a fair bit of effigy-burning. But in Bridgwater, Somerset, their focus is on squibbing.

The West Country town hosts an annual two-week festival, which culminates in a colourful carnival procession — reputedly the largest illuminated carnival in the world. The parade regularly attracts crowds of over 150,000. Although it started in the 1860s, the Carnival became an official event in 1881.

The climax of the Carnival is the annual squibbing display, unique to Bridgwater. The squibs (small hissing fireworks), tied on to wooden coshes, are lit and held aloft simultaneously. In 2005, to mark the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, a record 200 squibs were fired.

Photo: Peter J Nicholls Photographs/Bridgwater Carnival


Your comments

Bridgwater Carnival is thought to be the worlds 3rd biggest Carnival after, Notting Hill and Rio. It is probably the worlds largest illuminated carnival. It is a spectacular event viewed by enormous crowds, and unique to England.

Brian James

To see 50+ carts and floats - 100ft long with 30,000 lights, moving parts and people performing to a routine, plus the noise and heat, is an indescribable sight and sensation. The atmosphere of anticipation and excitement amongst young and old is unique to this carnival circuit.
Bob Edmonds

If you've never seen Bridgwater Carnival then you just will not understand it through mere words. It sums up the identity of Bridgwater, and is one of the most spectacular sights I have seen. The parade of carts built, designed and manned entirely by amateurs is more remarkable than anything Euro Disney or the like have to offer - it is a one off that cannot be found anywhere else in teh world and the atmosphere is amazing.
Dan Elson

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry