There's been a number of parades over the years where we've turned up not sure what to expect only to be wowed by the scale and wackiness of them. Amsterdam's Queen's Day is one, Sydney's Mardi Gras is another and this is one more, Winchester's Bonfire Night torch parade.
Having experienced it gleefully once before, we were keen to get the two Neils, Paul and Nicola up to see what they made of it. We walked down to the High Street for 6pm and I put in my order to the Round Table volunteers for 'two torches for a fiver'. The others were a bit confused thinking I might be buying two small battery operated torches?!? They soon got the idea when we all had our long wax torches in hand and started setting fire to them. Come 6.30pm the whole high street was lit up with burning torches and there were lots of potentially dangerous shenanigans going on like fiery lightsaber fights, holding them close to hairspray laden mullets and hot wax dripping down perilously close to bare skin.
I'm not sure where this tradition has come from. Was it some sort of old pagan festival that has continued through the years and evaded being quashed by the health and safety brigade? Whatever it is, it's good fun, a real spectacle and a superb way to get into the mood for bonfire night and fireworks. Well done Winchester Round Table for organising it and here's hoping it survives many a year to come!
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