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Ottery Tar Barrels

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What is Ottery Tar Barrels?

Since the 17th century, and for reasons that have been lost to history, every year tar barrels are lit up outside of pubs and carried through the streets on the backs of locals from Ottery St. Mary. 

In the weeks leading up to the festival, which takes place on November 5, the barrels are soaked in tar. Each barrel is sponsored by a central public house. 

On the night of the festival, seventeen barrels are lit in total, with spectators packed in around the streets and alleys. 

The day begins in the afternoon with women's and boy's barrels, but as the day progresses, the barrels that are hoisted onto the backs of the villagers grow larger and larger. 

Revelers can enjoy the spectacle of this unique event, as well as the annual funfair. 

Need to Know

Ottery St. Mary is located East of Exeter, in Southwestern England. Admission is free. 

Did you Know?

Although the exact origin of the festival is unknown, many believe that the origin is a pagan ritual that cleaned the streets of evil spirits. 

Check out the link for more information. 

Coronavirus is causing a number of event cancellations; we provide event website links on each page for you to check the latest updates.

See our Coronavirus page here.

05 November 2021

Start Date:
05 November,2021
End Date:
05 November,2021
Event Website:
United Kingdom - England

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