by the community, for the community

All About Malmesbury Carnival!

How long has Malmesbury Carnival been going?

Over a hundred years! The first mention of Carnival is from 1917 when it was held where our Primary Care Centre is now. But even before that there were local street parties, fairs, fetes and shows. Carnival has even had a book published about it.

Isn’t Carnival just the Parade?

No - but lots of people think that. The Carnival is now a whole month of events held through August. It has changes every year, with events ranging from open gardens to open mic, bands to beer festivals, high jinks to history talks, wine tasting to wine bluffing. And of course, every year Carnival has the Parade!

Is Carnival just for old people?

You have to be old enough to enjoy Carnival. Recommended ages are from birth to 123. No exceptions. Carnival does not discriminate on the basis of, well, anything really. But no more ‘tygers fierce’ – sorry Hannah. And flying drones? Elmer says this isn’t Gatwick….

What’s the point of Carnival?

Bringing the whole community together – Malmesbury town and all the local villages - to support local causes. Oh, and having fun.. Lots of fun!

So how much has the Carnival raised?

In 2020, Carnival made grants of just under £20,000 to 43 local causes. But did you know even in 1935, Carnival raised £117 10s and 10d? No-one really knows the total, but Carnival must have raised an equivalent of over £1 million over the years.

Who benefits from Carnival?

In Malmesbury, the Carnival has supported: Malmesbury School and St Josephs Primary; Abbey Little Stars baby and toddler; the Library; HEALS; sports clubs including Marlins and Tennis; Athelstan Players, and Museum; film and history societies; beaver, guide and scout groups. In our surrounding villages, Carnival has recently supported: Lea pre-school; Luckington Community School; Oaksey Youth Club; Crudwell and Sherston beaver and scout groups; Brinkworth Earl Danby School. The list goes on……

Great! Anyone else benefit?

We hope that the whole town benefits! Friends come and stay for Carnival events. Cafes, restaurants and bars get increased trade. More people in town is good for all other businesses. And Carnival supports local businesses with needs for printing, web sites, distribution, event hosting….

Who organises Carnival?

Volunteers! The whole of Carnival is organised by Volunteers from the town and surrounding area. Without volunteers Carnival wouldn’t happen !! The volunteers are so valuable, one was even ‘kidnapped’ before a Parade and held to ‘ransom’…. Anything to raise funds.

What sort of events has Carnival run?

Petticoat Lane, Carnival Balls, Fun Fairs, 10k runs, Flitch Trials, Balloon flights, History Talks, World Pillow Fight championships, donkey derbies, escapologists, spoof newspapers (now The Jackdaw)… Watch out for this years exciting Programme!

Have you had ups and downs?

Nothing in life is perfect! We all hate rain on our outdoor events! And who remembers that music event in 2009?  No-one? Good! But Volunteers keep trying for new events, new formats, new ways of promoting Carnival. Because if Carnival didn’t keep trying, local causes wouldn’t benefit from the support you give to Carnival…….

Any famous names?

Everyone involved in carnival is famous! And Carnival has also had: Jean Alexander - aka Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street; Hugh Cornwell – lead singer of The Stranglers; Leslie Crowther - host on multiple TV Game Shows; Gordon Kaye - Rene from ‘Allo ‘Allo; The Wombles, Muppets (direct from Lew Grade)… Not to mention all the volunteers…

What about animals?

How about these: a live lion cub from Longleat, a camel, goats, horses….. But Malmesbury’s famous escaping pigs - the Tamworth Two - had nothing to do with us. Honest.

I’m getting interested! So how do I get involved?

Come to as many Carnival events as you can! Enter a float in the Parade! Save your change to donate to Carnival! Give us a hand by volunteering here! Give us ideas of what you’d like to see here! Ask us about grants for your organisation here!

And Finally - Images of Malmesbury

This video was originally commissioned by the Malmesbury carnival committee & shown on two occasions at the 2008 town carnival. This is a re-edited version with some additional footage.

Malmesbury is an ancient rural town of about 5000 people in North Wiltshire England. Once a year in August there is a small carnival which includes open gardens & artists’ studios, amateur dramatics, folk music, talks, workshops & silly events... This film was put together from miscellaneous footage for the carnival and shows local scenes, the change in seasons... the bowls club, a large pig, the carnival procession, and an attempt to break the world’s largest pillow fight record. This is a simple film which shows something of rural town life in an ever-changing England.

Thanks to Fred Goudie for providing this delightful video.


00:00 - Intro
00:55 - Market cross & henry
04:18 - View from abbey roof
05:59 - Alpacas & wesley
06:45 - Carnival procession 2006
13:41 - Penguins
14:37 - Petticoat lane 2014
15:42 - Malmesbury & bells
16:53 - Carnival procession 2007
22:13 - World’s largest pillow fight
24:51 - Outro
26:41 - Credits
27:42 - End

Malmesbury Carnival Community Radio will return for Carnival 2024