Bonfire night

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London Battersea Park Bonfire nightIn the UK the 5th of November is a day of celebration. It can be called Bonfire night, Fireworks night or Guy Fawkes Night (or Day).   What do we celebrate? Basically that the king survived a plot to kill him. On 05/11/1605 a man called Guy Fawkes was found guarding explosives hidden under the House of Lords that were meant to be used to kill King James I and blow up the parliament. To celebrate that the plot was stopped people started lighting bonfires on the streets and bonfire night was born. If you would like to learn more about the history you could watch the BBC miniseries Gunpowder, treason and plot, with Robert Carlyle, Michael Fassbender and Clémence Poésy.   Old Bonfire Night celebrationsHow do we celebrate? In the past everyone took part. Children would create effigies and burn them on bonfires, and street parties would take place everywhere. With time the celebration became more and more about politics and religion until it became dangerous and was extremely limited in 1859. When that happened the celebration was carried on mostly by the poorest people. Slowly the meaning was lost and with fireworks becoming safer and regulations tighter the modern celebrations came to be. Nowadays most commons and large parks host firework displays on the night of the 5th or closest weekend. This year the 5th falls on a Sunday, so most celebrations will happen on the day or Saturday. In many places food stalls and other family-friendly entertainment are also available. If you go to one of the parks expect to see a lot of children! And expect a lot of fireworks being used by the crowds!   Places to go Most firework displays start selling tickets around September, but you can also buy at the door (just make sure you go there early). If you are not interested in the stalls and activities, you can watch them for free from other parts of the park. For our students in the South of London, the best displays are in:
  • Brockwell Park: Saturday 4th, with a night at the movies theme.
  • Wimbledon Park: Saturday 4th, with a Disney theme for younger spectators and a later one for adults.
  • Morden Hall: Sunday 5th, same as Wimbledon Park.
If you can’t make it to Bonfire Night and want to see some fireworks, you can go to The Lord Mayor’s Show on the 11th. Our Guildford students also have several options:   However you wish to celebrate, we hope you have a great time. And remember to be safe! Also, don’t forget your jacket, November nights can be very cold!