When: 31st December 2013
Where: Allendale, Northumberland
£: Free to watch
What is it?
The town of Allendale in Northumberland celebrates New Year with a unique Pagan Tar Barrel Ceremony. A lively procession takes place at midnight with 45 barrel carriers in fancy dress known as guisers.
The guisers carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar through the streets of Allendale to the town centre. The barrels are then used to ignite a ceremonial bonfire, known as the Baal Fire. As the ceremonial fire is ignited everyone shouts “Be damned to he who throws last”.
The Tar Barrel or Tar Barl Ceremony dates back to 1858 and is thought by some to be of Pagan origin. Others believe the ceremony comes from carol singers who used the barrels to light their way instead of candles. However it began, the New Year ceremony has remained popular and has attracted onlookers from far and wide over the years, including celebrated English poet Philip Larkin.