Bonfire Night

Red and blue fireworks in the night sky

Find out about what Bonfire Night is, why it is celebrated, and how you can get involved. 

What is Bonfire Night? 

Bonfire Night takes place on the 5th of November. It is an annual event involving bonfires and fireworks displays. It is also known as ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ and ‘Fireworks Night’.  

Why is Bonfire Night celebrated?  

In England, Scotland and Wales Bonfire Night tends to be associated with the tradition of celebrating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. The Gunpowder plot was a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to assassinate King James I and his Government. The plot was organised by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby who sought to restore the Catholic monarchy to England.  

On the 5th of  November Guy Fawkes hid in the cellars underneath the houses of parliament surrounded by barrels of gunpowder. Before he could light the fuse that would cause the gunpowder to explode he was caught by the authorities, arrested and later executed.  

After the failure of the Gunpowder plot in 1605 the people of London were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by lighting bonfires. This tradition has been celebrated ever since, and nowadays the bonfires are also accompanied by, or substituted for, fireworks. (Source: Wikipedia)   

Staying Safe  

Do not set off fireworks on University grounds, any events involving fireworks need to be planned in advance through the University’s event notification process, to ensure the relevant safety measures are in place. 

We recommend attending a public fireworks display, where professional pyrotechnicians are responsible for setting off the fireworks, rather than holding your own fireworks display.  

If you are holding your own fireworks display in a private residence, remember to be respectful of your neighbours at all times, keep noise to a minimum and don’t set off fireworks late at night. To keep yourselves and those around you safe, make sure to read the University’s home safety advice, and the Royal Society of Accident Preventions advice on firework safety.  

Alternative ways to celebrate Bonfire Night  

If you don’t like firework and bonfire displays, there are lots of other ways you can enjoy bonfire night without them:  

  • Bonfire night has lots of fun food associated with it, like toffee apples, hot chocolate and s’mores that you can either buy or have a go at making yourself. BBC good food has a range of bonfire night recipes you can try.  
  • Try bobbing for apples! This is a game often played on Bonfire night. To play you need to fill a washing up bowl with water and add in some apples. Each person then takes it in turn to try and catch an apple with their teeth. Check out this step-by-step guide on bobbing for apples for more instructions.  
  • Decorate your house or room with bonfire night themed decorations such as fairy lights, glow sticks, home-made crafts, Autumn wreaths and carved pumpkins.  
  • If you like fireworks but prefer enjoying them without the noise then you could try watching a fireworks display online. Alternatively, you could also use your TV or laptop to play music or a film as a distraction, and to counteract the noise, from any fireworks displays taking place in your area. 

If you are feeling particularly anxious about Bonfire Night check out the Guidance and Support pages on Essentials to find out about the support services available to you, and for a list of emergency contacts if you need urgent help.  

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