Lewes Bonfire Night

One hell of a British tradition

“Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Here in the UK, Bonfire Night is one of fireworks, fires and burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes; one out of a group of men that attempted to blow up the houses of parliament and everyone inside, including HRH King James. In honour of his survival, King James decided that November 5th would be one of celebration, and each year the people of England still have great bonfires on this night.

Ever since I was a kid, I remember us making a ‘Guy Fawkes’ by stuffing old clothes with newspapers and sewing them together, then throwing them on the bonfire. Usually these are big community events, and there’s a competition to see who can make the best one. We’ve never won, sadly.

It all sounds a bit odd, when written out like that! But nonetheless, it’s something to look forward to every year.

The biggest and craziest bonfire night in England is ‘Lewes Bonfire Night’, one which I attended a couple of years ago. If you haven’t been, I’d stick it on your bucket list. It’s MENTAL.

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Once a year, the serene town of Lewes (just outside of Brighton, South England) comes alive with parades and celebration. Local people dress up, juggle fire, sing, chant, dance and it’s a jolly old evening. Aside from the fire, which there is a lot of (funnily enough). I was hit by more than one tiny firework, but I lived to tell the tale so it’s all good.

The parades are followed by a visit to one of the six bonfire night’s individual celebrations – I went to Southover Bonfire Society’s event and it was unforgettable. In truth, I don’t understand a lot of Lewes’ bonfire traditions, as I know that there is a lot more to it than your average – I’m not sure what happens at the other societies, but at this one, grown men stood up on a platform and invited people to throw fireworks at them. Aside from that, there’s a huge bonfire and spectacular fireworks.

You do have to pay to go to the societies evenings, but it’s 100 percent worth it – it must take a lot of time and money on their part to put them on. If you don’t want to pay, the street parades are free to attend, but be warned no matter what it’s incredibly crowded and there isn’t any parking, which means train travel is a bit of a nightmare. Basically, be prepared to queue! Honestly though, it’s worth it. At this late stage, I doubt there’d be anywhere available to stay, but you could try the neighbouring town of Brighton, where there is a lot of accommodation. Nonetheless, it’s not too far from London, so it’s not the end of the world if you can’t book in anywhere. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, especially if you like hot mulled cider, which is readily available to warm your cockles.

If you don’t have any plans this Thursday, and can make it down to Lewes, please please do. You won’t regret it.

If you can’t, then I hope you have a good night nonetheless!

Wrap up warm and be safe!

Abi

X

@abipageaustin

@travelteatv

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