Bonfire Night 2016 – Ottery Saint Mary Tar Barrels

For years we haven’t done anything for bonfire night. As kids, my dad used to sometimes do fireworks in our back garden and then my sister and I would have fun drawing things in the air with our sparklers. But for the last few years, it’s been quiet – just watching any fireworks from our bedroom windows, and then trying to sleep through it all.

But this year, I wasn’t with my family, I was with my housemates, and we thought that since we didn’t do it last year, we should take a trip this year to the Ottery Saint Mary Tar Barrels.

The town has been carrying on a 400+ year old tradition, whereby they carry tar barrels on their shoulders running through the streets.

We didn’t really know what to expect, all we knew was that it was a must-do thing in the South West, and I’m glad we went because it certainly was an experience.

Having read the warnings on their website, I was a bit dubious about taking my camera, and could only get pictures on my phone. Although because it was dark, I took more videos than pictures as it meant I could capture the moving barrels of fire a lot clearer than grainy photos.

When we arrived, it was a short walk to the main town, where we very briefly saw our first barrel outside one of the pubs. We then carried on down following the crowds through the town before we reached an area completely packed with people. . . and we were wondering why on earth we couldn’t reach the large bonfire and the fairground. . . And then we found out. Everyone was waiting for the next tar barrel to the be lit. Next thing we know, there’s men running with a flaming hot tar barrel and the crowds scurried to part to let them through, else you’d be hit.

At that point we were quite far from the tar barrels, and so we proceeded to the  MASSIVE bonfire and the fair ground. And also by this point we were freezing and quite honestly thought we had lost a toe or two. After some of the other went on the rides, we decided to make our way back to the small streets to treat ourselves to doughnuts and hot chocolate but we somehow ended up getting a little close to yet another flaming barrel :’)

Getting that close to the barrels was thrilling yet at the same time we feared at how close we actually were. However, I managed to get a good video of the men running with the barrel which annoyingly I can’t post on here, so please bare with a still from the video:

2016-11-08 00.15.57[398].png

After battling our way through the crowds again (which took a good 30-60 minutes), I finally got my fresh doughnuts which totally ended the night on a high because WHO DOENS’T LOVE DOUGHNUTS!!!!!!

SO… Here are some photos from the night. They aren’t of the best quality but they capture the night 🙂


I love how my phone accidentally took a bokeh shot of the massive bonfire; it turned out to be one of favourite shots from the night, especially as it captures all the oranges and yellows but in the background there are few lights from the fairground rides.

Thanks for reading and until next time!





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