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Devon Bonfire Traditions

Bonfire night is a fantastically British tradition, which adds some sparkle and light to November as we head deeper into winter, and a chance for families and friends to gather round a bonfire and watch some fantastic fireworks displays! There are numerous Devon bonfire traditions which are famous not just throughout our county, but also nationally! Take a look at our blog below to check out some of the weird and wonderful Devon bonfire traditions:


Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary

We couldn’t talk about a Devon bonfire tradition without mentioning the famous Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels! An age-old tradition which is said to have dated back to the 17th century, only those who are born and live in Ottery St Mary are eligible to carry the flaming tar barrels around the packed streets of this quintessentially Devonian village. What starts with barrels carried by children and women, then leads onto the men’s barrels, which weigh up to 30 kilos! 17 flaming barrels, sponsored by the local pubs, are carried through the narrow streets, while bystanders simultaneously want to feel the heat of the flame but not leave with any singed eyebrows! The remnants of the barrels are the carried to the bonfire, where a ceremonial Guy Fawkes is placed on top. A truly memorable evening and once that is not to be missed.


Wheels on Fire, Sidbury

Located only 30 minutes from Exeter, Wheels on Fire adds an exciting twist to the usual bonfire night celebrations! This is due to the appearance of The Paranoid Chicken Performance Arts group, who are well-known for their spectacular fire dancing and acrobatics. Not only that, but there is also a quirky take on the bonfire, which this year takes the form of a motorbike. Set in the grounds of Sidbury Manor, it’s a great way to enjoy a slightly different bonfire and fireworks night but will all the usual staples such as a hog roast and BBQ, as well as mulled wine and locally brewed cider.



Plymouth Hoe Firework Display

Plymouth Hoe is a famous location for fireworks this year, having held the British Fireworks Championships in August, with two nights of outstanding displays taking place over the sea. Plymouth Hoe is also the setting for a huge bonfire and fireworks display this 5th November, as well as offering fairground rides and extensive food stalls. Attracting over 20,000 people, this Devon bonfire tradition has grown in popularity over recent years and is now one of the must-see events in the year.

So, there you have it, a snapshot into some of the quirkiest Devon bonfire traditions that this diverse county can offer. Whatever you are after, you are sure to find a great way to celebrate the 5th November in style. If you are staying in Devon longer, make sure to check out our other informative blogs on what’s on in Exeter in autumn, as well as autumnal day trips from Exeter.







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