Come to the Carnival – but please leave your cars at home
8,000 visitors, 1,000 torchbearers, 20 bonfire societies
The Annual Halland and East Hoathly Carnival and Bonfire is one of the most iconic events in the East Sussex Calendar. However, in recent years, this lively event has become a victim of its own success with traffic jams spoiling the fun and flow for everyone. This year it takes place on 10 November, in memory of ‘those that are left to grow old.’
The organisers are appealing to everyone to make an effort to leave their cars at home if they possibly can. If they do have to drive, Organiser Tim Laker has asked attendees to park in the entry roads to East Hoathly, off the A22, before 5pm and importantly, if walking, to wear appropriate clothing, which shows up in the dark and carry torches for visibility.
With 20 societies, more than 1000 torchbearers and the ceremonial ignition of a specially themed wooden sculpture topped by an impressive firework display, the best way to experience this spectacle is definitely on foot.
Following advice from the Police, organisers are limiting the parking from the Shaw roundabout on the A22 at one end of the village and from Juziers Drive to the A22 bypass at the other.
Blue Badge holders are advised to arrive early and speak to stewards about disabled access.
This year’s Bonfire Sculpture (along with the previous 13) has been created by East Hoathly artist Keith Pettit from waste timber destined for landfill. Known for his wood engravings and work in natural materials, Keith joyfully accepts the annual commission free of charge, knowing it will be ashes the next day!
About the theme, Keith explains, “This year the design is inspired by the stories of the women in my family that survived the death of their men, their problems and suffering started with the death of my Great Grandfather, this fire is a memorial to them and all the families that bore the loss of their loved ones and had to carry on. The fire will be clad with a spectacular design created from planks of wood, featuring a monolithic numeral 100, to reflect the Armistice Centenary. Within the design cleverly crafted gaps will re-create an impression of the famous photo of British troops on the shattered skyline at Passchendaele. Three abstract female figures carved out of tree trunks will be hidden in the design, to be revealed once the fire collapses. These scorched figures will be left in place and wild flower seeds scattered. These powerful sculptures will stand on the playing fields for the following year as a memorial to those that were left, those that continued and grew old.”
20 bonfire societies will parade with marching bands along London Road, High Street and South Street. The carnival takes two hours to move through the village stopping at 8pm to observe a two minutes silence with the final grand procession leaving the Foresters Arms for the War Memorial Playing Fields at 9pm after which the bonfire will be lit and the fireworks begin.
Spectators will be asked to donate towards the cost of the event as they pass the barriers and charity collection buckets, with proceeds towards the upkeep of East Hoathly Parish Church, will also be in evidence.