If you are in Ottery St Mary at the beginning of November, you can experience a bonfire event like no other. It isn’t just the traditional firework displays and burning of guys that you can see on 5th November in Ottery St Mary, as well as that, you’ll be able to witness the traditional tar barrel rolling event.
This is a tradition that has been part of Ottery St Mary’s calendar for so long, no one quite remembers how or why it came about, but every year around the 5th of November, flaming tar barrels are carried through the streets to the delight of the residents and visitors. It is such a famous custom that Ottery St Mary is internationally renowned for it. Every year, in the lead up to 5th November, the barrels are soaked in tar and then on the day, they are lit outside each of the town’s pubs, hoisted onto the shoulders of local people and then carried around a designated route. Visitors and residents alike pack the streets to see the barrels make their journey and some even join in with the early evening events that involve boys' and women’s barrels. The whole thing then culminates with one of the biggest bonfires of the South West on the banks of the River Otter.
There are guides and maps available in the town on the day, so you know where to get the best view and which routes the barrels will take and more information is available on the event’s official website.