It's carnival time in this part of the world, and one evening recently we put on our hats, gloves and scarves and went along to watch one.
The origins of the tradition go back 400 years when the people of Somerset decided to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. Since then it has grown into several weeks of carnivals held in different towns all over the county. They are all part of a circuit and each float is made by a carnival club. These are charities who spend the year decorating their floats and making costumes, and who then compete in their circuit. The themed floats are called carts and are pulled by tractors.
Here's a weather-themed float ...
... a pirate ship ...
... and an alien-themed float.
They are quite spectacular, with dazzling costumes and dancing, thousands of light bulbs and pounding music. But not all of the floats are this lively. Many are tableaux, or still life scenes, where the people on board stand completely still in a pose for the whole procession.
Some are rather moving, like this amazing World War One-themed float. It combined a battlefield with the trenches beneath, and the crowds lining the streets became quiet as it passed.
Such a lot of hard work goes into these floats from the people who make up the clubs. It really is astounding. This Transformers-inspired float must have taken ages to build, and even contained several real cars! It was hard to take it all in, even though they passed quite slowly.
I like the fact that communities keep fun traditions like this alive, and although I'm not a fan of garish fairground-type things, it really is an amazing sight on a dark November night. There is a tangible air of excitement, and the light of the carts against the night sky is dazzling. However, it was lovely to come home after it finished, with rosy cheeks and cold noses, to a warm house and a cup of tea.