Where to experience Guy Fawkes Night in Britain

Monday 12 February 2018

As the nights start to lengthen and winter draws nearer, Britain lights up thanks to blazing bonfires and flashing fireworks on and around the 5 November. This, you see, is Guy Fawkes Night (also variously called by Brits: Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night or Firework Night). The celebration marks the foiling of the infamous Gunpowder Plot in 1605 – a dastardly plan to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament and kill King James I. Guy Fawkes is the name of the perpetrator who was found in the cellar Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder, about to light the fuse.  

So join in this oh-so British of annual events at one of these atmospheric locations:

South-east England

Lewes Bonfire Night
Pic: CB on Flickr

The largest Guy Fawkes Night celebration in the UK is in Lewes, near Brighton, where 7 ‘bonfire societies’ compete to build the largest blazes, and there are fancy-dress processions around the town. Traditionally, the ‘Guy’ – a dummy burnt on the fire – is a representation of Fawkes himself, though at Lewes they may choose somewhat more topical figures…

North England

Fireworks, After Dark, Yorkshire

Each year on 5 November, the Yorkshire city of Sheffield plays host to After Dark, a massive firework display. With more than 18,000 spectators each year, this huge event has a giant fun fair to explore, food stalls to sample winter warmers, a live music stage, a bonfire, and of course the firework display.


Mar Lodge Estate Scotland by night

Mar Lodge Estate occupies nearly 7% of Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park which covers some of the most remote and scenic wild land in the UK. A perfect backdrop for Guy Fawkes Night festivities, complete with fireworks and a bonfire ignited by a torch-lit procession accompanied by bagpipes.


Caerphilly Castle Wales fireworks

Caerphilly Castle in south Wales is the second-largest castle in Europe, so it makes quite a sight lit up with their spectacular fireworks display each November. Their annual event is free to attend.

South-west England

Ottery St Mary Burning Tar Barrel
Pic: Lewis Clarke Creative Commons

Meanwhile, in Ottery St Mary in Devon, for some unknown reason – other than being a bizarrely British custom – the brave townsfolk carry burning tar barrels while running through the streets. Men, women and children alike run through the town while spectators enjoy the thrill of avoiding the runners’ flames!

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