Remember, remember, the 5th of November! Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, is upon us once again. Although some events around London have been cancelled there are still several parks and locations operating a safe and fun night for the whole family. We’ll let you know some of the best still operating, as well as a little history to the night and advice on what to bring.
A Short History
On the very night of the 5th November 1605, there was an attempted plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Guy Fawkes and 12 other men loaded 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath Parliament building. They were discovered around midnight just a short time before they were to light the fuse. Their aim? To blow up not just the building holding all of the government that night, but King James I himself! They chose that night as it was on the 5th of November that the government were scheduled to reconvene.
They were a group of Catholic insurgents organised by a man called Robert Catesby. He and many others were furious over the prosecution of Catholics by the Crown. Catesby’s own father had been made an example of by Elizabeth I for not conforming to her newly established Church of England. In hopes of annihilating the King and all those in power, they rented a cellar under the Lords building prior, which Guy Fawkes slowly loaded with barrels of gunpowder. One of the conspirator’s brother-in-law, Lord Monteagle, was tipped off hours before, having been anonymously warned not to attend Parliament that night. Thus, the plot was discovered and the 13 men were tried.
Guy Fawkes was tortured, giving up all the details of the plot. He soon became infamous across England. He was ordered to be hung, drawn, and quartered, one of the most brutal punishments saved for traitors – the same gruesome fate was given to Sir William Wallace around 400 years prior. However, Guy Fawkes jumped from the gallows on his way up, breaking his neck and avoiding full punishment. In hopes of others not taking up the cause or seeing Fawkes as a martyr, the King was happy to officialise the 5th of November as a national holiday to celebrate the foiling of the attempted coup.
Every year towns and cities were to hold parties, make bonfires, and create scarecrow-like ‘Guys’ to burn and demonise. Although the Act only remained official until 1859 it is still a celebratory night, more so today as an excuse for families to gather, play games, watch fireworks and eat treats – schools still hold competitions on who can make the best ‘Guy Fawkes’. However, although the religious and political nature is gone, it remains a special night to mark a move into winter and celebrate families and community.
Where to Watch
Please be aware that there are restrictions for bonfire night 2021 in London. There is no guarantee that tickets will be sold at the gate and so it’s always best to book in advance. Please be safe this year and follow the venue’s guidelines.
At the famous Battersea Park in southwest London organisers are taking an interesting approach. Spanning over two nights (the 6th and the 7th November) there will be an art installation of a ‘visual volcano’. It will be an interactive and immersive experience tailored towards families and children sure to be interesting. It has been put on by the team behind the Mayor of London’s New Year’s Eve celebration and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
You can enter at Home Park road for an exciting evening of fireworks put to music. The early display will be catered towards children with a Disney theme while the second show is to the style of James Bond. There will be food vendors and rides promising a fun-filled Guy Fawkes night. To be more eco-conscious, however, there will not be a bonfire this time round. The event takes place on Friday, November 5th.
Don’t worry if you can’t make the Wimbledon Park firework night. Morden Park is organised by the same group and doing the same show the night after (Saturday, November 6th). They plan to sell tickets at the gates but there are no guarantees, so if you haven’t pre-booked be sure to get there early!
If you are in North London there is a great fireworks night in Alexandra Palace Way. As London’s longest-running Guy Fawkes Night this one promises to be an extravaganza. There will be a huge bonfire, lit by a host of fanciful characters. Guests can also enjoy not only a fireworks display but a fire show from a Tottenham based circus troupe. There’s also LED hoop artists, fire dancers and much more! Not only is there a display of pyrotechnic mastery but even an ice rink. Enjoy also the largest bier festival in the UK too.
Those in the East have the option of watching the fireworks in Walthamstow. There will be the usual food and stalls and it’s a great place for children and family. If you happen to want to make a full night of it you have the area’s vibrant nightlife at your fingertips. Enjoy the many fun pubs and boutique cocktail houses.