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Somerset Carnivals

Somerset Carnivals

Somerset Carnivals

It can be tricky to convey to someone from outside the county just how important (and dazzling) the Somerset carnivals are. There are around 30 illuminated carnivals in the South West. The most famous are often referred to as the ‘Magnificent Seven’. These are the Guy Fawkes carnivals and this ‘circuit’ takes place in November. Tens of thousands of people line the streets to watch these very special Somerset carnivals.

The Cross at Croscombe is located close to three Somerset carnivals; Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet and Wells. As you can see from the list below, these take place within a few days of each other. Carnival addicts could take in all 3!

Somerset Carnival dates & routes 2024

            Bridgwater Carnival – Saturday 2 November 6pm

            Highbridge & Burnham-on-Sea Carnival – Monday 4 November 7:30pm

            Weston-super-Mare Carnival – Friday 8 November 7pm

            North Petherton Carnival – Saturday 9 November 7pm

            Midsomer Norton Carnival – Monday 11 November 7pm (technically not one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’)                 

Shepton Mallet Carnival – Wednesday 13 November 7:30pm

            Wells Carnival – Friday 15 November 7:00pm

            Glastonbury Carnival – Saturday 16 November 6:45pm

Roads on the main routes are closed prior to and during each event. (Ahead of the Wells carnival one of the local roads is used as a temporary car park as carts are parked up ready for the big event. It’s not a sight you expect to see as you visit the supermarket…)

Somerset carnivals

Carnival floats parked up in Wells

The South Somerset carnival Circuit 2023

These carnivals last for around an hour and a quarter.

Wellington 30 September 2023 7:00pm  

Ilminster 7 October 2023 7:15pm

Chard 14 October 2023

Taunton 21 October 2023 7:00pm

other carnivals in somerset – wessex grand prix

Below are some of the smaller carnivals in Somerset. Still magnificent, these events last around an hour.

Frome Saturday 23 September 7:00pm (main procession). There is also an afternoon procession which starts at 2.30pm

Wincanton Friday 13 October 7:30pm   

Castle Cary Saturday 14 October 7:00pm


It’s claimed that the Somerset carnivals are the largest illuminated processions in the world. And if you’ve been to a Somerset carnival you’ll know that it’s hard to argue otherwise. Carnival ‘carts’ are built and designed by carnival clubs around the county. Taking months to complete, these really are a labour of love and can cost thousands of pounds to produce.

Somerset carnivals

Each cart has a theme. The largest will be up to 100 feet in length and illuminated with thousands of bulbs. Carnival club members ride on the carts in fancy dress, often dancing/juggling/singing to pounding music. Hundreds of carts can take part in each of the processions, so a Somerset carnival can easily last for a couple of hours. Carts are judged and prizes awarded at each event.

The amount of entries to each carnival can vary as a few of the carts can be too long to navigate some of the local streets. Bridgwater always kicks things off in style on the county circuit. Here, the crowd is usually in excess of 100,000! (Bridgwater carnival is held on the first Saturday in November.)

Bridgwater carnival also features a squibbing display. This involves around 150 people simultaneously letting off fireworks which are strapped to a large cosh. The result is a dramatic trail of fire. If you fancy catching the display it only takes place after Bridgwater carnival.

Somerset Carnivals

While the events are free to attend, they are designed to raise money for local causes. If you fancy experiencing one of the Somerset carnivals please take some change with you. And do remember to take some warm clothing (preferably with a pocket for a hip flask).

Happy carnivaling!


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