Love it or loathe it, you can’t much avoid it if you live in one of the towns which hosts the annual Somerset carnival.
Last night it was Glastonbury’s turn to lock down the town centre and line the streets with burger vans and balloon sellers. Rows of hard-core carnival fans turned out from as early as midday with their fold-up chairs and blankets, keen to secure a prime viewing point at the kerb side.
There’s no denying that the atmosphere of carnival day is a jolly one; the town is flooded with coach-loads of visitors and local businesses veritably buzz from all the extra trade. The pubs are vibrant and busy, families amble the high street until the afternoon light starts to wane and the atmosphere changes again; the temperature drops, roads are closed off and crowds really start to line the streets. Darkness falls and the town is lit by the burger vans and merchandise sellers touting their glow sticks and tacky flashing hats. The soundtrack is a combination of generators, excitable voices and whistles.
We live right on the carnival route so for us it’s easy viewing from our first floor window. Nicely warm inside, we’re still able to soak up the vibe from the often spectacular carts as they crawl past.
It’s not quite the same as being outside in the midst of it though, so we do venture out to join the crowds and in particular for my highlight of the carnival. At the end of the procession each year, the Blackdown Samba drummers assemble at the market cross and give us a fantastic, electrifying performance which brings a huge crowd a-shimmying and a-shaking in an energetic and vibrant finale.
Here’s a little video of them performing last night:
By the end of the night the town is a abandoned to a gazillion pieces of litter and drunken stragglers. By the morning, an amazing team of litter pickers will have worked tirelessly through the night to return the streets to shiny new pin status.
Congratulations to all the carnival clubs and entrants who were awarded prizes. But the collective efforts of all who are involved in the organisation of the carnival should be commended. We are lucky to have it literally on our doorstep!
Here’s a video of some of the parade from our window!