The Gazetteer


Bridgwater - Bridgwater Carnival - one of the largest of the west country carnivals, held on the nearest Thursday to 5 November: featuring a huge procession of illuminated carnival floats and displays of the Bridgwater Squibs fireworks. Look at The Carnival Chronicle for more across the country.

Bristol - Jack in the Green Festival each year with a lively procession through the city's streets accompanied by musicians and dancers. Jack, 9 ft tall and covered in greenery, is accompanied by two attendants, in green rags and vegetation, from the Arnolfini at the historic Harbourside at 10.30am to Horfield Common around 4pm. There he must die, to release the Spirit of Summer (always first Saturday in May). See the web-site for information, or contact +44(0)117 924 8168.

Bruton - Packhorse Fair, Spring Bank Holiday. This fair, which began in 1998, promises stalls, live music, circus skills, craft and music workshops along the River Brue by the Packhorse Bridge. Contact Lisa Pryke, +44(0)1749 813772 for dates and information.

Exford - Pony Stallion Parade and Exmoor Pony Society AGM on the first Wednesday in May. Contact +44(0)1398 341490.

Glastonbury - Wassailing at Somerset Rural Life Museum on Old Twelfth Night (17th January). Contact +44(0)1458 831197. In December the town holds the Thorn Cutting Ceremony : the Glastonbury Thorn or Holy Thorn is a type of Hawthorn that flowers at Christmas and is believed by some to have originated from the Middle East. It is said that Joseph of Arimathea visited England nearly 2000 years ago and visited the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury. He carried a staff which he stuck into the ground and which took root and grew into a tree. The original tree was cut down by Cromwell's soldiers in the Civil War but trees across the country are said to have been grown from cuttings, such as at Appleton, Cheshire. On the second Wednesday in December, a piece of the thorn in St John's Church, Glastonbury is cut and sent to the Queen. Contact Glastonbury TIC +44(0)1458 832954. See Pilton for the Glastonbury Festival.

Green Men of Somerset
Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombeparish churches have Green Man Bench Ends

Hinton St George - Punkie Night, on the last Thursday in October. It is said that one night worried wives left lanterns outside made from hollowed out mangel-wurzels to show their drunken husbands the way home. Now children carry lanterns made from pumpkins with faces cut out of them around the village boundary, collecting money and singing the punkie song, Punkie is derived from pumpkin or punk, meaning tinder.

Langport - Mummers. The Langport Mummers have revived the tradition of mumming in local pubs, performing on Boxing Day and the weekend following New Year. They are a troupe of nine, with the Black Knight, St George, St George's mother, the Doctor, Beelzebub, Molly Masket, Toss Pot, Devity Doubt and Enterin. It is based on a traditional script but rewritten in parts with a local and contemporary flavour. The cast have not come from the Morris tradition and have flamboyant costumes. Contact Kate Lynch +44(0)1458 250367 or e-mail kate.lynch [at]

Minehead - 'Obby 'Oss, May Day - The Minehead 'obby 'oss - known as the the Sailors Horse - proceeds from the Quay around town on Show Night, May Day Eve, at 6pm. On May Day morning at dawn, the horse proceeds from the Quay again and later the crowning of the May Queen takes place. He goes around town throughout the day, and then on to Yarn Market, Dunster Castle and Dunster Village in the evening. It proceeds through town over the next two evenings. On Friday 3 May, there is a booting on the outskirts of Minehead when victims are caught and booted by the horse while being held by the crew. There is a further penalty of having to dance with the horse without being lashed by its tale. There is also live music on Friday Night. The Horse, as one legend says, may have been a way of scaring Danes and other invaders from the coast. There is also a legend locally that a cow was washed ashore from a shipwreck and its tail was cut off, attached to the Hobby Horse and used to chastise people (May Day Eve - 3 May). Contact Minehead TIC +44(0)1643 702624.

Parish Maps of Somerset

Abbotswood, Alveston, Arnos Vale, Ash, Ashley Vale, Avon Community Council, Backwell, Barton Hill, Barwick, Bath, Bedminster, Bishopston, Bitton, Bradley Stoke, Brushford, Buckland Dinham, Butcombe, Cadbury Heath, Castle Cary, Charlton Horethorne, Charlton Mackrell, Chew Magna, Clutton, Coleford, Congresbury, Crewkerne, Croscombe, Curry Rivel, Cutcombe, Downend, Dulverton, Easton, Fivehead, Frome, Goathurst, Hambridge, Hanham, Henleaze, High Littleton, Hinton Charterhouse, Kingston Seymour, Kingswood, Knowle, Long Sutton, Muchelney, North Cadbury, Norton St Philip, Pensford, Sampford Brett, Shapwick, Shepton Mallet, Shipham, Stogumber, Stoke Bishop, Swell, Thornbury, Tickenham, Uphill, Westbury Park, Wheddon Cross, Whitchurch, Winsham, Widcombe, Wrington.

Pilton - Glastonbury Festival. Usually the last weekend in June. Michael Eavis' Pilton Pop Festival has been running intermittently since 1971. Now an internationally renowned event, and a rite of passage for many, it has risen above problems with safety, security and complaints from local residents which, sadly, lead to several cancellations. Contact +44(0)1159 129129, or see the web-site. There was an earlier festival in the town, organised by composer Rutland Boughton between 1914 and 1927. He wanted Glastonbury to become the English equivalent of Wagner's Beyreuth in Germany. His uncompromisingly socialist principles starved him of local support and the enterprise withered.

Priddy - Sheep Fair, Somerset - Wednesday before 21st August. Traditional sheep fair with sheep and horse trading, along with fun-fair and stalls. Contact Cheddar TIC +44(0)1934 744071 or find out more on the Mendips AONB web-site.

River Severn - Elver Fishing starts with the spring tides in March until April 25. Also, the Severn Bore occurs throughout the year. Look at the Environment Agency web-site for annual predictions, or call +44(0)845 9333111.

Apple Day, October 21st

Find events in Somerset or read about Somerset Orchards and Orchard Produce.

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