november, 2020

05nov5:00 pm10:00 pmTar Barrels at Ottery St MaryFlaming Barrels

Event Details

Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary

Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary is a tradition that is hundreds of years old. This is not an event for the faint hearted. Men literally run around the streets carrying flaming tar barrels.

The website warns: “This event becomes very crowded and you are in close proximity of fire and burning tar barrels. If you are scared by flames and do not like being in crowded areas then this event is not for you! “

However if you want to see a spectacle of English madness then this is the event for you!

The event is not suitable for small children as the streets do get very crowded.

More information and details about parking please look at the website 

The town is closed to all traffic from 5pm. Parking is in one of the official car parks and costs £10. This money helps cover the cost of holding the event.

In the 12 months leading up to the event, barrels are lined and soaked with coal tar. On the night of tar barrels, the barrels are lit and carried through the streets of Ottery St. Mary while thousands cheer on the barrel-rollers.

The origins of the tar barrels are unknown however stories lead us to believe it began post the gunpowder plot of 1605 as a way of either fumigating cottages or as a warning of the Spanish armada.

Lighting barrels is a tradition that takes place in various locations in the South West however Ottery St. Mary is recognised worldwide for carrying the tar barrels on their backs.


(Thursday) 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

About Clare

Clare Flipflops or WelliesHi! I am Clare and I live in glorious East Devon with my family. I love finding new places to explore in the West Country as well as further afield. I hope you enjoy reading and taking inspiration from my blog.

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