Somerset carnival-lovers keep busy despite events being cancelled because of Covid-19

Glastonbury Carnival
Somerset's famous carnivals normally take place every autumn in towns and villages across the county Credit: ITV News West Country

People involved with Somerset's famous carnivals have been keeping busy this autumn, despite the events having been cancelled this year because of Covid-19.

The carnivals, which begin with events across the south of the county in September and October before the 'Guy Fawkes' circuit in November, are world famous. Months of work go into making the illuminated displays.

  • Watch: Highlights from Bridgwater Carnival 2019

For Chris Burge, chair of Westonzoyland Carnival Club, it is odd to see his 'cart' looking bare at this time of year.

He said: "It feels very strange, especially this last couple of weeks where it gets really, really busy so it’s really surreal that you’re looking for something to do.

"We’re coming down, a few of us, at the moment but normally it would be 20-30 people down here. At the moment it’s just the minimum six."

Tim Martin is the club's vice cart captain. He said: "Only recently we’ve been having one meeting a month but that’s generally just to see each other and keep everyone going. Otherwise it’s been tricky."


Westonzoyland Carnival Club is restricted to six people working in its shed at any one time Credit: ITV News West Country

Although carnivals are off, 'carnivalites' have kept busy. Many volunteers helped to put out signs to shut off town centres from vehicles when shops reopened earlier in the year.

Chris Mockridge is the traffic management team leader at Bridgwater Carnival. He said: "We feel very proud and honoured to get the job itself and it’s a way that we feel that we can pay back to the community and to the highways people who’ve got great faith in us to do the job.

"We normally do a lot of community events supplying no waiting cones and traffic kit and all that’s gone - so it’s been quite strange really. We’ve got out of practice of carrying signs!"

Bridgwater Carnival will be holding a virtual 'best of' event on its website this year Credit: ITV News West Country

Bridgwater Carnival is based at a site off Bristol Road in the town, alongside multiple clubs.

President of the event, Mike Crocker, said it is hard to get used to how quiet it is this year: "It would be full - people in every shed," he said.

"It’s so busy at this time of year. It would be manic down here and it’s so disappointing now, none more than for the people in the clubs because by the time the carnival was postponed they all had their ideas in, they were well advanced with plans. Now it’s just so disappointing."

Without a 2020 event, organisers have arranged a virtual carnival with the best historic entries for viewers to enjoy.

Dave Stokes, from the Bridgwater Carnival team, said: "We started filming the carnival back in 1982 so we’ve got 37 years worth of footage of the carnival entries in Bridgwater possession. We went out to the carnival clubs and said tell us what your favourite entries are over the years and the response was fantastic.

"We’ve got an app and we’re going to ask the public to vote on what they think, from what they’ve seen, what is their favourite entry.

"In early December we’ll be announcing the result."

You can find out more about this year's virtual Bridgwater Carnival here.

Since the official event started in the 1880s, only the World Wars stopped Bridgwater Carnival. This year, it and the events in many of Somerset towns and villages are greatly missed.