THE 54th Taunton Carnival takes place on Saturday (October 19).


The annual illuminated procession moves off at 7pm from the bridge in Tangier Way and down into Wood Street. It turns right into Bridge Street before going up through the town centre into East Street and down over East Reach to the finish line on Chritchard Way.

The spectacle begins with a cavalcade of Harley Davidson motorcycles parading around the route to warm up the crowds followed by last year’s class-winning Ilminster Majorettes.

Miss Taunton, Carnival Queen Carlie Perkins, and Carnival Princess Grace North will have pride of place near the front of the procession looking regal in their gowns, cloaks and tiaras.

Feature, tableau and comic floats will eclipse the streetlights with their dazzling displays using hundreds and hundreds of light bulbs interspersed between the wonderful walking entries, with themes ranging from Butterfly Ball to Ghouls.

Over the last three Saturdays Wellington, Ilminster and Chard have hosted the procession, with the majority of entries appearing there proudly showing off the floats and costumes they’ve spent weeks bringing together.

As well as entertaining the crowds, they are competing in a dozen different classes for coveted local trophies and points towards the overall South Somerset Federation awards.

Carnival is full of friendly rivalry so holding the cups aloft in front of the competition can be more important than the prize money

The procession will take just over an hour to pass any one point on the mile-long route.

Bringing up the rear will be the one vehicle the organisers hope not to need – a breakdown recovery unit provided by Frost Rescue, from Bridgwater.


You can vote for your favourite entries using the CarniApp. Download for free to your phone from the AppStore or Google Play. All the votes from the four towns put together will decide the best float and best walking entries


On Saturday morning historic cars and Harley Davidsons will process through the town centre in convoy before forming up in High Street.

These are always an attraction to young and old and plenty will cast an envious or rose-tinted eye over them.

As an incentive to all the car owners to keep everything gleaming and in tip-top condition, Miss Taunton will select the most pleasing vehicle in her eyes for the Spiller Trophy.

For youngsters there is a Moon-themed mask and hat competition at the Museum of Somerset from 11am to 2pm. Taunton Mayor Cllr Fran Smith will judge the entries and present the Mayor’s Millenium Cup to the winner.


The carnival committee will be selling official carnival merchandise during the day in High Street and during the procession.

Visibly branded official sellers will be out on the streets selling high quality ‘light-ups’ and toys.

Committee chairman Marilyn House said: “We want to keep as much of the public’s money in the local economy.

"To do that we’re selling quality carnival merchandise ourselves and encourage spectators to buy from the official sellers vehicle preceding the procession in the evening.

"Many spectators won’t realise that other traders and pedlars come from outside the area and none of their proceeds goes to Taunton Carnival or local charities."


Taunton Carnival Committee puts in all the hard work organising the procession for two main purposes – to provide a spectacle in the town’s calendar of events and to raise money for local charities.

This year the main charities are Taunton Opportunity Group and Taunton Street Pastors.

During the evening procession there will be dozens of official collectors on the ground. The reward for performers and event organisers alike is to see all the collecting tins full and piles of coins on the lorries.

Treasurer Roz Swinburne said: “If everyone put £1 or 50p coins into the collection we’d easily have a record collection. Of course we don’t mind what coins or notes come our way but we do need a lot of them please. We’re happy if it takes us all day Sunday to count it.”


Castle Street between the entrances to Tangier and Castle Street car parks and Tangier Way down to the junction with Wood Street will be closed to traffic from 2pm to allow all the entries to assemble and get ready for the evening’s show. Access to Tesco and Lidl will not be affected. Enfield car park will be closed all day.

The town centre will be closed at 6.30pm so the procession route can be cleared of traffic before the crowds move in to line the pavements.

Through traffic is directed away from the centre to keep it moving and to keep a clear access to Musgrove Park Hospital. The official east-west diversion is via Priory Avenue, Trenchard Way, Staplegrove Road, Silk Mills Road and Wellington Road.

No vehicles will be able to leave Wood Street, Yarde Place, Haydon Road or Victoria Gate onto the route while the procession is taking place, between 6.30pm and around 9pm. There will be an alternative route out of the Wood Street area via Cleveland Street and French Weir Recreation Ground.


The carnival committee works closely with the emergency services to make sure everything on and off the procession route runs smoothly on carnival night.

There are marshals along the route to keep an eye on spectators and make sure the procession passes safely. These are closely supported by the police, with St John Ambulance crews around the route in case of accidents.

Senior staff from the emergency services and other agencies come together with the organisers in a joint control room where they are ready to co-ordinate action should anything unforeseen happen.

The carnival clubs all have safety guidelines and good practice notes to follow to keep their members safe.


Planning the carnival is a round-the-clock activity for the committee, with much of the work behind the scenes.

Carnival secretary John Lewis said: “We see different challenges every year. We work closely with the emergency services, county highways and Somerset West and Taunton Council in the safety advisory group.

"We’ve worked together for many years to make sure everything is organised and recorded well in advance in the event management plan. This gives us a safe platform for all the clubs and individuals who spend many hours to bring the spectacle to life on the night. I’d like to thank all of them and all the volunteers who are out there on Saturday evening.

“Our ambition is always to give to our charities everything that we collect on Saturday plus a little bit more. Inevitably costs go up every year for the background things such as insurance, traffic and crowd management and health and safety.

"Carnival is not a cheap event to put on. We organise the annual Taunton Marathon and Half Marathon and 10k road races earlier in the year to bring in the money we need.

"We’ve had sponsorship and support from lots of local companies over the years for many of our activities. Without them none of this would happen. What we need to cap it all now is good weather and full collecting tins this weekend.

"Please dig deep to help us keep the carnival tradition alive in Taunton and support this year’s chosen charities. Remember to buy your glows and toys from our official sellers.”

For any other information on the day’s events, visit

If you would like to help in any way, contact Marilyn House on 01823-289395 (e-mail or John Lewis on 01823-283892 (e-mail