Flaming tradition still going strong in Ottery

Ottery Tar Barrels. Ref sho 5862-45-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Ottery Tar Barrels. Ref sho 5862-45-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary’s unique Tar Barrels returns next Saturday (November 5) and organisers have issued top tips to enjoy the night.

With more visitors expected than normal, the committee is keen to ensure visitors stay safe to enable the barrels to continue rolling for years to come.

Festivities will start with the traditional firing of the cannons at 5.30am to awaken sleepy residents throughout the morning.

An afternoon firing session will commence at 1pm, leading into the children’s tar barrels at 4pm.

Following the conclusion of the intermediate, men’s and women’s barrels, crowds will turn their attention to the tradition’s flaming finale, the midnight barrel.


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The committee has advised visitors to plan their routes into the town for the evening. Bright orange barriers will be in place to divert crowds and uphold safety barriers for spectators’ and barrellers’ safety.

Programmes, safety leaflets and merchandise will be available for sale throughout the day, containing all information about the barrels, safety information and the bonfire.

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Those travelling from outside of Ottery should leave plenty of time on the day, as roads to the town will close at 4pm.

Car parking is available at all main entrances to the town and vehicles parked in clearways or unauthorised areas will be towed.

Coach parking is available at Otter Nurseries, in Gosford Road, only. All money collected from car parking will be donated to the event.

Visitors with any questions can report to the information points located next to the Volunteer Inn and in Frockalicious.

Marshals, barrels marshals and security will also be on hand to answer questions.

A Tar Barrels spokeswoman said: “The committee want you to have an enjoyable, safe experience at this local tradition that they are so proud of and are keen to keep going, but please remember you are spectators at this event. You must in no uncertain circumstances try to interfere with this unique event.”

For more information, follow the committee on Facebook @friendsofcarnivalandbarrelnight for live updates on the night.

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