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Ten things to do for Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night in Somerset

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: October 10, 2012

  • The squibbing tradition at Bridgwater Carnival

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A failed bid to blow up Parliament led to the setting up of what has become Europe’s biggest illuminated carnival.

The origins of the parade in Bridgwater can be traced back to the gunpowder plot in 1605 and the carnival is actually called the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival; named after one of the conspirators.

And one of those said to have been involved in the plot was Robert Parsons, who was born in Nether Stowey.

According to the official carnival site, the Bridgwater event is the oldest event of its kind in the UK and raises thousands of pounds for charity.

The sight of the illuminated carts winding their way through the Somerset towns is truly dazzling and thousands pour into the county to experience the spectacular every November.

Plus the county boasts the Witch of Wookey Hole – perfect for a spooky start to Hallowe'en so like the carnival had to feature in our top 10 for this year’s Halloween and Bonfire Night festivities in Somerset.

1) Witch fun – If you're looking to take a party on a spooktacular Hallowe'en trip, then Wookey Hole has to be on the list of venues. Where else will you find a resident witch?

Creepy competitions and eerie tours are promised from September 27 to November 4. Once inside, visitors are promised “there’s no going back……the cackles, the dimly-lit corridors and the echoes of drips into the river – an experience you will never forget”.

And once you have escaped the cavern, check out more than 20 attractions included in the ticket from dinosaur valley to a circus show and fairy garden.

Wookey Hole Ltd, Wookey Hole, Wells, BA5 1BB T: 01749 672243 (information line).

2) Guy Fawkes Carnival – The largest carnival in Europe which attracts tens of thousands of people every year to the streets of Bridgwater takes place on November 3 – it’s the first time it’s been a Saturday and it is being done on a trial basis for three years.

The illuminated spectacular features carnival carts measuring up to 100ft long and the parade can take two hours to pass any given point on the 2.5-mile procession route say organisers.

Festivities end with a squibbing display in the High Street. The procession starts at 7pm.

Bridgwater Carnival is part of the Guy Fawkes Circuit which also includes the following carnivals:

Weston-super-Mare November 9 7.15pm. North Petherton, November 10, 7pm. Burnham-on-Sea/Highbridge, November 12 7.30pm. Shepton Mallet November 14 7.30pm. Midsomer Norton November 15 7.15pm. Wells November 16 7.30pm. Glastonbury November 17 7pm.

Click here for a Somerset Carnivals 2012 preview.

3) Ghost hunt – Check out the historic George and Pilgrim pub in Glastonbury. Built in the 1400s, it is steeped in history and captured the headlines earlier this year after one of its ghosts was apparently captured by camera. It boasts 14 rooms including some with four-poster beds and also has the Pilgrim’s Bar and a restaurant featuring home-made food.

George and Pilgrim, 1 High Street, Glastonbury, BA6 9DP T: Reservations 0845 805 3478.

4) Owl prowl – Wildlife experts are holding a Hallowe'en event with a difference. Owl expert Chris Sperring is inviting people to join him for a spooky Halloween owl prowl on the Somerset Levels.

Participants will discover the different calls, how they hunt and how to identify different species. And those taking part are invited to dress up in costume.

The event is free but booking required on 01823 652400. Meet at Westhay Moor Car Park on October 31 for the event which takes place from 4pm to 6pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Torches are needed.

Somerset Wildlife Trust, Tonedale Mill, Tonedale, Wellington, TA21 0AW: T: 01823 652400.

5) Wizard wiles – East Somerset Railway is planning a spooky wine and dine on October 27. Witches will serve treats, warlocks will serve drinks from the cauldron and a wizard will be performing tricks at the tables.

Organisers warn: “Be prepared for bumps in the night and ghostly shuntings beyond our control. An evening of tricks and treats and spooky wizards, warlocks and witches.”

East Somerset Railway, Cramore Railway Station, Cranmore, Shepton Mallet, BA4 4QP T: 01749 880417.

6) Firework display – Watch firework displays set to music at the Hatch Beauchamp Charity Fireworks. The annual event which also features a bonfire takes place at Meare Court Farm on November 5 2012. Gates open at 5.30pm with the display starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 adults, £3 children and £12 for a family with free on site parking.

Meare Court Farm, Hatch Beauchamp, Taunton, TA3 6DA T: 0844 884 5369 (information line).

7) Timewarp – Time for Meatloaf meets the Rocky Horror Show for this Hallowe'en special. Terry Nash performs as Meatloaf and Eddie from the cult musical at Oake Manor Golf Club. Tickets cost £12 each to include a disco and buffet supper.

Oake Manor Golf Club, Taunton, TA4 1BA T: 01823 461993.

8) Pumpkin carving – Perfect for creating that Hallowe'en ghoul. Barleymow’s Farm Shop and Restaurant, near Chard, has a range of activities throughout the year with a Maize Maze and Farm Adventure play area in the summer and pumpkin carving at Halloween. It describes itself as offering a ‘choice of delicious fresh local produce’. A restaurant is on site along with free parking.

Barleymow’s Farm Shop and Restaurant, Snowdon Hill Farm, Chard, TA20 3PS T: 01460 62130.

9) Visit a Crypt – The National Trust is inviting visitors to explore the crypt at Dunster Castle with the chance to visit the ghost room – if you dare.

“See if you can catch a glimpse of a ghost lurking in the ghost cellar or use the special torch to unearth the castle’s ghostly hot spots if you’re brave enough, take a seat and listen to the ghostly tales of the extraordinary ordinary told by volunteers, staff and members of the Luttrell family,” say the Trust.

It also has ghostly photographs on display. Ghost tours take place on October 27 and October 31 at 6.30pm. Adult £12 and child £6. Booking essential.

Dunster Castle, Dunster, near Minehead, TA24 6SL T: 01643 821314.

10) 10. Terror night – Take yourself on a spine chilling terror tour at Hestercombe Gardens on October 26, 27 and 31 from 6pm to 9pm. With ‘vile and hideous’ treats available in the Stables Restaurant and Coffee Shop from 5pm.

The Nights of Terror 45 minute tours cost £8 per adult, £6 per child with a family ticket £25. Described as suitable for all ages but children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, TA2 8LG T: 01823 413923.

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