Last minute preparations under way as town gets ready for the traditional carnival on Saturday.

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THE third week in September means just one thing for Barnstaple – carnival time!

On Saturday the town will be abuzz with costumed characters, live music, and entertainment during a fun-packed day for the while family prior to the main carnival parade in the evening.

From just after 12pm the Square and The Strand will be the focus of activities, with stalls, music, demonstrations and displays.

Children of 11-and-under can practise for the main parade, or for future years, by joining the colourful Kidz Karnival which forms up on the Strand from 2.30pm. Judging is at 2.45pm and the mini processions moves off at 3.30pm to make its way along Boutport Street and the High Street to Cross Street then back to the Strand.

The crowning of this year’s Carnival Queen, 18-year-old Immy Dawes, will take place on The Strand at 5.30pm before Immy and her attendants join the big carnival procession at 6pm.

The parade will form up along Castle Street and North Walk. Judging is from 4.40pm and vehicles can be in place from 3.30pm, asked to arrive via the Rolle Quay direction.

With much fanfare, music and colour, the annual spectacle will make its way along the Strand to the Square, then along Belle Meadow, Queen Street, Boutport Street, Mermaid Walk and back to North Walk.

The music at the Square begins at 1pm, with Open Mic hosted by Luxton Lake, followed by popular local singers Trudi Brown and Jax, singer songwriter Sam Dowden and other local performers.

There will also be plenty of mobile refreshment stands to keep hunger and thirst at bay, plus numerous stalls from local organisations, charities and companies.

A judo demonstration and the annual majorettes competition will be among the many things to see.

The festivities will draw to a close at around 8.15pm with a glorious firework display over the riverfront.

Road closures will be in force during the afternoon and evening, with North Walk from Tuly Street to Cross Street closed from 2.45pm. Access will still be available to the Cattle Market car park.

The carnival route, including The Square, Longbridge, Belle Meadow, Queen Street, Boutport Street and Mermaid Walk will be closed from 5.45pm. Some will reopen from approximately 7.30pm, but the Square and Longbridge will be closed until 9pm.

Traffic entering Barnstaple will still have access as far as the Rolle Street roundabout and the inner relief road will remain open.

To find out more, or to enter the carnival, call Andy Shiner on 01271 373180, email andyshiner1@btinternet.com or download your entry forms from www.barnstaplecarnival.co.uk.

 The carnival is of course the culmination of Barnstaple Fair week, which started yesterday (Wednesday) with the traditional Fair Proclamation Ceremony and ceremonial fair opening.

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