When: 31st December 2014
Where: Allendale, Northumberland
£: Free to watch
What is it?
The town of Allendale in Northumberland celebrates every New Year with the unique Tar Bar’l Ceremony. The celebration features a lively procession through the streets at midnight with flaming tar barrels and a brass band.
The procession contains 45 barrel carriers, known as guisers, all wearing special costumes. 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 Bar’l 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.