Ottery St Mary - Tar Barrels

Town Centre, Ottery St Mary, DEVON, EX11 1BZ

Add Ottery St Mary - Tar Barrels to your Itinerary

Close window

Call direct on:

Tel01404 813964

  • Flaming Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary - The Telegraph
  • Tar Barrels
  • Tar Barrels
  • Bonfire
  • Ottery Tar Barrels
  • Ottery Tar Barrels
  • Ottery Tar Barrels
  • Ottery Tar Barrels

Opening Times

Ottery St Mary - Tar Barrels (5 Nov 2018)

Every year, for reasons lost in antiquity, the Flaming Tar Barrels are carried through the streets of Ottery St Mary to the delight of thousands of townsfolk and visitors. 

Ottery St. Mary is internationally renowned for its Tar Barrels, an old custom said to have originated in the 17th century, and is held each year. 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. The barrels are 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.

The streets and alleys around the pubs are packed with people, all eager to feel the lick of the barrels flame. Seventeen Barrels all in all are lit over the course of the evening.

In the afternoon and early evening there are women's and boy's barrels, but as the evening progresses the barrels get larger and by midnight they weigh at least 30 kilos. A great sense of camaraderie exists between the 'Barrel Rollers', despite the fact that they tussle constantly for supremacy of the barrel. In most cases, generations of the same family carry the barrels and take great pride in doing so. It perpetuates Ottery St Mary's great sense of tradition, of time and of history.

Opinion differs as to the origin of this festival of fire, but the most widely accepted version is that it began as a pagan ritual that cleanses the streets of evil spirits.

It is an incredible night to remember - one of the biggest bonfires in the South West is ignited on the banks of the River Otter and behind it are the flashing neon's of the annual fun fair.

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Free admissionFree


Key Features

  • Repeatable Event



Map & Directions






What's Nearby

  1. Beautiful Days Festival

    Beautiful Days is the hugely popular Levellers music and family festival which takes...

    2.01 miles away
  2. Honiton Show

    The Honiton & District Agricultural Association – “Where Farming Comes First” The show is...

    3.39 miles away
  3. Elvis Tribute Act

    Back by popular demand! Be prepared to sing along and be fully entertained

    3.97 miles away
  4. Junior Vet Day

    Designed with budding vets aged between 11-15 in mind, experience firsthand what it would...

    4.63 miles away

    Simon & Garfunkel: Through the Years features video projection and stunning vocal...

    4.93 miles away
  2. Experiencing the Landscape Exhibition

    This exhibition is the culmination of a year-long collaborative project between THG and...

    4.93 miles away
  3. Halloween Party

    Join us after hours for a Halloween party to celebrate the national The Big Draw and...

    4.96 miles away
  4. October half term tricks and treats

    Have a scream this Halloween with the trick or treat trail, pumpkin carving and brave the...

    5.35 miles away
  5. Sidmouth Folk Week

    The Sidmouth Folk Week Festival is not just the oldest, but the finest Folk Festival in...

    5.38 miles away
  6. Fireworks at Woodbury Park

    Join us on Friday 2nd November at 7pm for our Fireworks extravaganza, featuring live...

    6.38 miles away
  7. The Crealy Christmas Spectacular

    This Christmas is going to be truly magical at Crealy Adventure Park & Resort; join us...

    6.63 miles away
  8. Crealy Halloween

    Join us for Halloween 2018 for our biggest halloween event ever! With all our rides and...

    6.63 miles away
  9. Crealy - Firework Spectacular

    Join us as we light up the skies above Crealy

    Visit Crealy for an amazing day out with...

    6.73 miles away
  10. Westpoint - Spring Quilt Festival

    This is a fantastic opportunity for all patchwork and quilting enthusiasts. The show...

    7.39 miles away
  11. Westpoint - Dolls House & Miniature Fair

    Experience the exquisite world of Dolls House Miniatures at our public fair where you...

    7.39 miles away
  12. Westpoint - The Toy Train and Collectors Fair

    Catering for all collectors, walk, browse and look for those elusive and hard to find...

    7.39 miles away
Previous Next


Ottery St Mary ChurchOttery St Mary, Ottery St Mary

European Union Leader South Devon Coastal

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss