november, 2021

05novAll DayFeaturedOttery St Mary Tar Barrels

people around burning bonfire


All Day (Friday)


Ottery St Mary

Ottery St Mary, Devon


Event Details

Flaming Tar Barrels are carried through the streets of Ottery St Mary every November 5th to the delight of thousands of visitors — for reasons no-one can quite remember!

The old custom, dating back to the 17th century and held every year, has put Ottery St. Mary on the map. Each of Ottery's central public houses sponsors a single barrel. In the weeks prior to the day of the event, November 5th, the barrels are soaked with tar. They're then lit outside each of the pubs in turn and once the flames begin to pour out, they are hoisted up onto local people's backs and shoulders.

A truly unique event maintaining centuries of tradition

17 Barrels all in all are lit over the course of the evening — people pack the streets and alleys in the heart of the village, all eager to experience this truly unique event...

In the afternoon and early evening there are women's and boy's barrels, but as the evening progresses the barrels get bigger and bigger. Generations of the same family carry the barrels and take great pride in doing so, maintaining the village's sense of tradition.

There is genuinely no other event in the UK like it —  it's also joined by a fun fair and huge bonfire on the banks of the River Otter.

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