Remember, remember the 5th of November: Bonfire Night

The big excitement the first weekend we were in London was Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night. Essentially, to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes in trying to blow up Parliament in 1605, the entire nations sets things alight, blows up fireworks and enjoys a general haze of debauchery (they are British though, so nothing too untoward).

Bonfire night in Lewes

Loads of people in Lewes for Guy Fawkes Night

An effigy of Guy Fawkes to burn

These pictures might indeed look like a war zone set on fire, and I must say that that was the general atmosphere of the whole night. Dan’s brother, John and his girlfriend, Rosie, rented a mini van and we all, plus their friend Smuggo, drove down to the city of Lewes (is it pronounced Loooos, or Louis? We’re still not sure) for the festivities, about 2 hours outside of London. Apparently, this city is renowned for their Bonfire night celebrations, where the surrounding four towns, plus Lewes, join up for a night of parades, fireworks, drinking and general madness.

Citizens dressed up as pirate smugglers

Fire, fire, everywhere

Citizen dressed up as a british foot soldier....bottle feeding his baby

And some people were dressed as Vikings

Little boys dressed up as Firefighters

Laura, enjoying the lights

Following the parade groups were men towing sawed off oil barrels (half barrels) in which they piled up the torches people dropped.

*At the end of the video I’m crouching behind Eric because I was too scared!

Basically, everyone was dressed up from the time period of Guy Fawkes and was marching around in a parade carrying torches. In a lovely addition, they were also dropping M-1000 fireworks on the ground every so often (i.e. every 2-3 minutes) that create a huge bang, a huge fireball, and a huge flash of light. Those bangs you hear in the video above are the little “firecrackers” everyone was dropping! KABOOM!

To be honest, this really freaked me out for the first few minutes, when I looked at Laura after the first barrage and she shouted “I’m SOOO SORRY WE BROUGHT YOU HERE” I felt a bit better. Like “Ok, I’m less of a wimp”. But after a while, we got used to the noise and the fire and got into the mood. We thought this was what all the bonfire nights were like and then Dan told us no, he’d never been to one this big before. When I asked, “Isn’t someone worried about people getting hurt? Isn’t someone going to sue someone???” they replied, “You’re such an American. No one is thinking like that here.” Fair point.

Dan is stoked.

War Veterans memorial. The whole crowd sat for a minute's silence. In the middle of all that madness, it was really powerful.

Lighting a torch before setting of the Veterans effigies

Lights going off during the Veterans memorial

Dan and John

"No Popery", a big theme in Bonfire Night. Apparently Guy Fawkes was a Catholic so "no popery" reinforces the fact that Bonfire Night celebrates his demise.

Effigy of the Pope

Gaddafi effigy. Yowza!

We ended the night on top of the hill above town, watching three simultaneous firework shows go off across the sky of the valley. Laura had brought sparklers so we played around with those for a while too. I won’t get into how we almost got in a fight with a pack of 14 year olds. You’ll have to wait to hear about that one!

Dan and Laura, sparkling

Firework casing I found

All in all, it was definitely one of the most exciting nights of our trip. We would have never even known about it except for Dan and his brother. We were really excited to be able to experience it. I hope we’re there next year for it!

<3 Chelsea

Harry Potter effigy!


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