Ten things to do in Exeter this Halloween and bonfire night
One of the top events in the country for celebrating Bonfire Night takes place just a few miles from Exeter.
Ottery St Mary is home to the famous Flaming Tar Barrels which sees men, women and children carrying lighted barrels through the streets.
Not only does it mark November 5 but also is the culmination of days of celebrations which starts with carnival on Friday – October 26.
Graham Rowlands, chairman of the carnival committee, said: “The Tar Barrels are a fantastic sight and I would not want to be anywhere else in the world on that day.”
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He said there were a number of reasons the tradition is said to have started but the committee is currently pulling together accurate research.
“We believe it is linked to November 5 and Guy Fawkes, but we are trying to find out the stories and compiling the information,” he said.
Other thoughts are that it was introduced to fumigate the area, drive away evil spirits or as a warning of the approach of the Spanish Armada.
The celebrations start with the carnival which starts at the Finnimore Trading Estate at 8pm. Steve Pearcy, committee secretary, said: “We have participants coming from Somerset, South Devon and East Devon. It will be a really good show.
“After the procession we have a firework display on the Mound of Canaan at 10pm, on Saturday we have a group, Thick or Thieves, performing and on Sunday it’s a walking treasure hunt around the town.
“There’s a window competition for children during half term – we have an Indian theme so dotted around are little elephants for the children to find.
“We have a quiz at the cricket club on November 2 and then the Tar Barrels on November 5. We are trying to make it a real community event.”
Meanwhile Exeter is facing an invasion of Zombies for the annual walk and ball. Organiser Mike James says: “People are coming from all over for it and it looks like we’ll have 700-800 taking part this year.
“Last year’s walk made it into the top 100 Zombie Walks in the world and this year I would love to top that.”
That’s just a couple of the celebrations for the next couple of weeks and we’ve picked out 10 more for your diary to either mark Halloween or Bonfire Night.
1. Zombie Ball – Exeter Phoenix plays host to the ‘un-dead’ after the annual Zombie Walk through the city centre on October 27. A night of ‘gruesome shenanigans and Halloween themed fun’ is promised. On the Main Stage will be Fearless Vampire Killers and The Dead Lay Waiting headlining supported by Cambion, Flame Fracture and Your Mum’s Beard and on the Flesh Blood Stage Athura, Lost in Conflict, Out of Enemies, Purging the Venom and Leviathan. Doors open at 5pm with advance tickets on sale at The Exeter Phoenix or Blue Banana. The Zombie Walk starts at 3.45pm at the upper car park at Exeter Bus Station with entertainment en-route.
Exeter Phoenix, Bradninch Place, Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS T: 01392 667080
Exeter Bus Station, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 2JX T: 0870 608 2608
2. Spooky stories and fund-raising fireworks – Crealy Devon is planning a week of spooky story telling with readings by special guests from October 27 to November 4. They include Judi Spiers, TV and radio presenter; David Lawrence Jones, author of the Bradley Baker books; Michael Caines, celebrity chef and James Vittels, from Exeter City FC. Plus there’s the chance to visit the Crealy witch in her grotto and have-a-go at pumpkin carving. Plus on November 3 there’s fund-raising fireworks in aid of Families for Children which will be opened by TV star Caroline Quentin, who is a patron for the charity. Tickets for Saturday are £5 per person and available on the door from 4pm on the night.
Crealy Great Adventure Park, Sidmouth Road, Exeter, EX5 1DR T: 01395 233200.
3. Spooks and broomsticks – Exeter’s Red Coat Guided Tour – Spooks and Broomsticks is a special for Halloween. Meet outside the Royal Clarence in Cathedral Yard for a circular evening tour discovering why Exeter is one of the most haunted cities. Chilling tales about ghostly residents are promised. Suitable for all ages. Tours start from 6.15pm with the last tour at 7pm.
Exeter City Council, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1JJ T: 01392 265203
ABode Exeter (The Royal Clarence Hotel), Cathedral Yard, Exeter, EX1 1HD T: 01392 319955
4. Gory Tour – on October 31, Exeter’s Underground Passages will be featuring Gory Story Tours highlighting tales from the city’s past with children invited to have a go at writing their own gory story with the chance to win prizes. Throughout half term – October 27 to November 4 excluding October 31 – there will be Witches and Wizards tours with youngsters invited to discover ingredients for magic spells.
Exeter Underground Passages, 2 Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1JN T: 01392 665887
Powderham Castle is holding Spooky Tours from October 28 to November 1. “Join a spookytour if you wish to hear fascinating tales of the Castle and its past residents as you follow a friendly, ghostly guide through the impressive rooms – you may even spot one or two. After the tour you will take part in an outdoor spooky session with a couple of visiting creepy characters. Thrilling and chilling but above all fun,” say organisers, who have regular guided tours running too for those who do not wish to be ‘spooked’. There’s a pumpkin trail in the grounds too. Spooky tours run at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm with regular tours at 11.15am, 12.45pm and 3.45pm. Normal admission applies but spooky tours need to be booked in advance on 01626 890243.
Powderham Castle, Kenton, Exeter, EX6 8JQ T: 01626 890243
6. Halloween Ball – fancy dress or black tie, the choice is yours for the Halloween Ball at the Coaver Club on Friday October 26 from 7pm to 1am. Entertainment includes Diamond Dogz, a free hog roast, casino, disco, cocktail bar, horror movies and apple bobbing with tickets costing £12.
Coaver Club, County Hall, Matford Lane, Exeter, EX2 4PS T: 01392 382519
7. Firefighters’ Fireworks – a public fireworks party is being organised by Exeter firefighters and police officers in a bid to help keep people safe. They say organised displays are much safer. The event is taking place at Middlemoor Fire Station on November 3. Doors open at 6.30pm and will raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Fire Fighters Charity. Tickets cost £12 for adults and £6 for children including a free hog roast for all ticket holders. Free parking is at the Park and Ride at Sowton, opposite Digby and Sowton train station. Crew manager GregWebb, of White Watch at the station, said: “We don’t want to stop people enjoying fireworks so we thought we’d help by providing an opportunity for people to do that safely. Organised displays are much safer than private parties so why not come to ours or find an organised display near to where you live. Remember to follow the firework safety code wherever you are.”
Middlemoor Fire Station, Sidmouth Road, Exeter, EX2 7AP.
Westpoint Arena on November 5 featuring fairground rides, food and drink stalls as well as the fireworks. Gates open at 5.30pm with the fireworks at 7.30pm – the main gates are closed to traffic from 7.15pm. Advance tickets are adults £5, children £3 and family – two adults and two children £13 with on the gate prices (cash only) £6 adults, £4 children and £17 family. Advance tickets are available from the locations below.
Westpoint Arena, EX5 1DJ
Advance tickets: Londis, Sylvania Drive, Exeter; Londis Gladstone Road, Exeter; Londis, Clyst St Mary; Quickpring, Sweetbrier Lane, Heavitree; Specsavers Opticians, Fore Street, Exeter; Lavis News, Magdalen Road; Queen Street News, Queen Street; Broadway Stores, St Thomas; Dunns Motors (BP Garage) Marsh Barton; Stagecoach Travel Shop, Exeter Bus Station; Gillets Spar, Silverton; Redmayne Bentley Stockbrokers, 20 Southernhay, West Exeter and Pinhoe Pharmacy, Exeter.
9. Scouts Show – Exminster Scouts are organising a firework display for November 3 at Deepway Centre. Featuring refreshments, barbecue as well as the traditional show. Gates open at 5.30pm and the display is 6.45pm. Advance tickets available from Coffee on the Corner and the Post Office at £10 for two adults and up to three children. On the night the family ticket is £15, adult £6 and £3 per child.
10. Disco and fireworks – Exeter Golf and Country Club is combining Halloween and Bonfire night celebrations with a family event on November 2. The event features a firework display, Halloween fancy dress disco, bouncy castle, barbecue, bars and restaurants open as well as a bonfire. Gates open 5.30pm, bonfire 6.45pmp and fireworks 7.15pm. Tickets cost £8 adults, £6 child and £22 for a family of two adults and two children.
Exeter Golf and Country Club, Countess Wear, Exeter, EX2 7AE T: 01392 874139