A TRADITION believed to have started more than 160 years ago, the Allendale Tar Bar'ls always attracts a spirited crowd.

The annual event sees the village light up each New Year's Eve with a fiery show.

But sadly, owing to a rise in Covid Omicron cases, the popular gathering, which attracts hundreds of people to the Allen Valleys, will not run - for the second consecutive year.

Tradition dictates that a group of 'guisers', 45 local men, carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar through a procession.

Guisers dress up for the occasion and are helped on their way by large crowds filling the streets.

To become a guiser, men must have been born in the Valleys and agree to wear fancy dress and blacken their faces with soot.

Past 'characters' have included Oompa Loompas and Donald Trumps, Storm Troopers, the cast of Dad’s Army and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The barrels are generally off-cuts and guisers usually wear hats to stop them from sliding. The barrels are filled with sticks and wood shavings on a bed of sawdust, designed to prevent the dash of paraffin used to light them from leaking out.

The guisers parade around the Market Square carrying flaming barrels of fire on their heads.

At 11.30pm, the torches are usually lit and the barrels ignited. Each guiser lifts the flaming barrels up on to the top of their heads and falls in behind the band.

At midnight, they arrive at the pre-built bonfire in the town centre. The barrels are then used to ignite this ceremonial bonfire, as everyone shouts: “Be damned to he who throws last”.

While Newcastle's party capital status and other events may have popped up in recent years, revellers still come out and support the quirky, much loved event to wish fellow villagers the best for the New Year. In fact, in April, Allendale was named amongst Britain’s most eccentric locations in a list published by The Guardian.

Do you spot anyone you know in our picture gallery?