|Glastonbury Carnival 2010
||[Nov. 14th, 2010|07:33 pm]
Somerset's 'Guy Fawkes' carnivals are among the largest illuminated processions in the world. They are almost impossible to describe adequately to anyone who hasn't seen them - a parade of bombastic floats on themes that range from bad jokes, through crude imaginings of other cultures, to (once or twice a year, if you make the effort to stand through the rest of it, and keep an open mind), genuinely stunning feats of engineering and imaginative spectacle that nothing-quite-like can be found anywhere else in the world.|
The carnival represents a huge community effort over each year, the results of which regularly leave onlookers agape with incredulity. Sometimes in a bad way...
These are the scrawled notes I took last night as the pop music, light bulbs, and dancers of varying shapes and levels of enthusiasm trundled past.
A few of the comments are direct quotes from my sister's boyfriend Pete, an out-of-towner seeing Glastonbury Carnival for the first time.
Bikers in superhero outfits
Minibus with no apparent purpose
Man trying to sell 100 balloons
Caged dinosaur & pirates
Juggling Santa Claus troupe
dropping their stuff
Random teenage girls showing off extremely shoddy dance to Katy Perry record
Traction engine (nice!) hooting & steaming
Drumming troupe - Pete: "not a smile to share between them"
Carnival queen & princesses in temple/greenhouse
Dancing yawning elves on wobbly reindeer sing "Rock'n'Roll Christmas"
Pete: "Jesus Christ what is that"
Giant ragged crow on sticks
with Morris dancing witches
Followed by actual Morris men
Trolls actually from Germany!!**
"AFRICA". Say no more.***
Flower fairy tableau - Actually good :)
Little majorettes... and big majorettes...
Extremely brightly coloured "Ceremonial Barge" 'oriental' float
Olympic union jack zimmer frame dance
"TUSK" - Giant moving woolly mammoth heads & cavemen dancing with spears to thrilling music. Includes cave girl in a cage. [this was good]
Masqueraders Carnival Club: "Odyssey" - Dragons, with even more dramatic music. A dragons/viking boat mashup. Even the fake flames work. [this was *really* good]
Followed by: "Pirates", with Spongebob 'You Are A Pirate' song - Bit sad by comparison - but they're only kids.
Actual baton twirling! - behind vaguely pom-pom decorated waste disposal lorry.
"Pretty impressive" says Pete
Teenagers imagining being at a rave - "Chavin' it!!"
"TOUCH DOWN" - American themed float, with Alexandra Burke's Broken Heels soundtracking it [this kind of incongruity is what most wrinkles my brow about the carnival]
Walking magician woman
Walking rainbow peacock supernova girl with maracas
People dressed as chickens with 'Feeling Hot Hot Hot' playing. Float is called "Hot Chicks". [This is at least the third annual outing for this giant moving bad pun that I know of]
Crazy walking lightning man
Happy hardcore Christmas medley float
Lit blue feathery alien walker
"Colosseum" - slow Roman tableau playing Gladiator theme. All the horses' eyes are about six inches too far forward.
Official collection float sponsored by P. Phillips & Sons Patterned Concrete & Surfacing Specialists
Small boat that looks like a trebuchet
Float I can't even be bothered to write down
"Jest 4 Fun" jesters-themed float, silky harlequin outfits
Creepy card-themed masqueraders following vehicle blaring out 'Poker Face'
Scary Pinocchio float - "pretty good, pretty bright", "bloody mad", "surely they only need 10W lightbulbs"
Golden woman on skeletal dinosaur
"What the bloody hell is that"
Giant roman alien robot skeleton maybe
Scary horned white churchy things - "Gargoyles" - giant moving bells, stained glass spinny stuff - "I mean it is bloody impressive" [I took this float, which was ostensibly about kind of demonic, sinful church, to be a comment on the priesthood. But it might just as likely have been a kind of 'naughty nuns' fantasy on the part of those responsible]
"What've I missed?"
"A Jai Ho Indian dancing troupe"
"No... come on..."
"The Way You Moove" - People in cow-costumed overalls dancing to "The Way You Move"
Upside-down clown walkers with heads between fake legs
tune: Paloma Faith (?) 'Upside-Down'
[at this point the pear ciders and mulled wines were taking effect, I may have missed quite a lot from here on]
Big colourful butterfly walkers
"Medieval Pageant" - widely applauded for some reason?!
On the "Tarot" float, the "Queen of Pentacles" holds up a card bearing an... er... Star of David. [AND THIS IS IN GLASTONBURY, OF ALL PLACES! FOR SHAME!]
"The Way You Milk Me Feel" - another cow-punning float. But, they've actually changed the lyrics in the actual music they're playing. "My milkin' days are gone..."
loads of crap, then...
"The Spirit of the Blitz" - an astonishing tableau float featuring multiple scenes with participants in period dress, and the float made to look like a bombed red-brick building. One of those it's worth turning out for.
followed by Shark-y float playing 'O Fortuna'
"Over the Rainbow" - [too many glasses down the line to remember what this was about]
And that was it for this year.
You can read about the 150-year history of the carnival on this .pdf file (http://glastonburycarnival.com/GlastonburyCarnivalHistory.pdf) - there are some entertaining 19th-century letters to the paper to be found there...
One of those things everyone should see once in their life. For better or worse, you won't believe your eyes.
*That might sound mean, but these particular ones really were crappy. They all had batons which they raised and lowered vaguely in time to the music. *I* could've majorette-d better, and that's saying something.
**After years of seeing local residents' 'interpretations' of other cultures and countries, I was really impressed to see a group of costumed individuals had actually traveled across from the continent to show themselves to us for real! The next float spoiled all that though.
***'Say no more' won't work for those of you who haven't seen the show before... the float, titled 'AFRICA', featured a lot of large models of safari animals, and white Somerset people wearing warpaint. And grass skirts. And thrusting spears. No, I'm not kidding. This is the kind of thing that goes on. There was a black-and-white-minstrels float in living memory... and by 'living memory' I mean 'you might remember it even if you're only 10 years old'.