Bridgwater Carnival 2012

Saturday night was carnival night. For the first year, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival was held on a Saturday, to try to increase the amount of money collected for local charities. For those who don’t know, the carnival procession is held in the evening and is considered to be the largest illuminated carnival in the world and in fact only Notting Hill in London and Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro are probably bigger. The reasons for the procession are two fold, local heritage and culture (not to mention entertainment) and to raise money for charities.

Last year, the carnival was beset by drama and tragedy, with the collapse of the wall by the river and the later serious accident on the M5 near Taunton. Following the accident, carnival-goers held a mass minute’s silence the next day, during the traditional “Black Sunday” celebrations and a significant amount of money was raised by the various clubs. This was recognised by the emergency services during this year’s procession, thanking all the clubs for their help.

The entrants were as spectacular as usual, although I felt that there was a reduction in originality, with a number of entrants having very similar themes to recent years and even some with the exactly the same name during the procession, for example two or three clubs named their entrants “Circus”. One of my favourites was “Be our Guest”, by Wick Carnival Club. It wasn’t as spectacular as some of the big clubs, but they have improved noticeably in the few years I have been watching, plus it was one of the more original ideas. Sometimes I think originality should be rewarded as much as the amount of money that is obviously put into making many of the carts. I also find the entries from Huckyduck and Pentathlon to be quite interesting, but I was slightly disappointed by Huckyduck’s entry this year at the time, although looking at the photos, I like it better. It certainly wasn’t in the same class as their “Spirit of the Blitz” entry a couple of years ago, but was still good.

In what has almost become a tradition in the past decade, Gremlins yet again were the winners, with their entry Revolution. They seem to have a much bigger budget, with so many members, when compared to many other clubs and their cart is always a mass of moving parts.

All in all Bridgwater Carnival 2012 was a success and passed without the major incidents of last year. I think holding it on the Saturday was an improvement, although only the news of how much collected will confrm that.

Carnival Weekend

This weekend was the start of the Somerset county carnival circuit, starting with Bridgwater on Friday, before moving down the road to North Petherton last night. Even before Bridgwater carnival started, things didn’t quite go to plan for me though. Even though, I’d charged all the flash batteries, two had actually failed, so there was only enough power to show the menus and not power the flash itself. So, resorting to plan B without flash, I waited for the first carts to arrive.

Wild Bill's Runaway Train by Gremlins CC at Bridgwater Carnival. Winner of the County Cup.

The forecast had been for heavy rain and for once, the forecast was right. Just as the pre-procession passed and the first carts were appearing, the rain appeared right on queue. It had been light drizzle up to that point, but now it was a fullscale deluge. Had I still had the flash attached, it would actually have made keeping the camera even remotely dry impossible, as it was, it still got quite wet.

Despite the rain, only two carts had major technical problems, with one having to drop out entirely, just past where I was, so that it could go for repair. The other carried on in darkness.

Gargoyles by British Flag 2010

Gargoyles by British Flag CC at North Petherton Carnival

Because of the flash problems the previous night, I decided to go to North Petherton Carnival, so that I could experiment and maybe get some shots that didn’t have streaks of rain throughout the image. As the night before though, just as the procession reached my point, the rain started. Luckily, it only lasted quarter of an hour or so and wasn’t anywhere near as heavy.

The rest of the night went without a hitch and all of the carts were operational, although some had lost banks of lights. I now have alot of editing and processing to do. Hopefully, I should get at least some ready later on today.

Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival 2010

To the Trees - 2009

To the Trees by Gemini CC at Bridgwater Carnival 2009. Joint winner of the County Cup.

Tomorrow night is carnival night, it’s time for the annual Bridgwater Carnival. Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, to give it its full name, is considered to be the third largest carnival in the world, only being superceded by Rio’s Mardi Gras and London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Of the three, it is the only one that features illuminated floats, as well as the more usual individual costumes. As such, it is the largest illuminated carnival in the world, not bad for a small town with a population of around 30,000. People visit from all over the country and in recent years, there have been entries from Brazil, along with some other countries. The festivities start in the morning, with performers on a purpose built stage, taking in turns to entertain the visitors. After Bridgwater, the procession moves on to the much smaller nearby town of North Petherton, before moving on to other towns in the circuit, such as Glastonbury, Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare.

Burlesque Cabaret - 2009

Burlesque Cabaret by Masqueraders CC at Bridgwater Carnival 2009

Last year, I attended for the first time, although, I did visit the event in Burnham-on-Sea many years ago. The winner of the overall event was Burlesque Cabaret by the Masqueraders Carnival Club, who also shared the overall prize on the circuit as a whole with To the Trees, by the Gemini CC. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than it had been earlier in the day, so there were just the occasional showers, although some were quite heavy. As can be seen in the second photo, the moon did show itself for a while in between the showers. The weather forecast isn’t very good for this year either, but hopefully the rain won’t be as heavy as it looks like it may be. Good luck to the participants and hope anyone who goes, enjoys the show.