Sunday, 6 November 2011

Remember, Remember the 5th of November- Gunpowder and a whole lot of fire!

Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot....
Back in the day, the 5th of November 1605 - Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder- he was responsible for lighting the barrels to bring down the government building and ultimately parliament! Unfortunately for him, he got caught, tried and then hung, drawn and quartered! And so on the 5th of November we (the UK) celebrate his failure- usually with fireworks and a bonfire on which we burn a 'Guy'!
Poor Guy...
Burning crosses... as ya do...
In a southern part of the UK, not far from Brighton, is a town called Lewes; they hold the UK's largest and most famous festivities and have become known as the 'bonfire capital of the world'. The town has 6 separate societies that parade through the town carrying fire sticks, barrels of bangers and throwing crackers. Dressed in traditional costumes each society has a marching band and they wind through the streets ending up at their own individual bonfire sites.
'We wunt be druv' - an old Sussex phrase meaning 'We won't be pushed/persuaded'
On average 80,000 spectators attend the event, and that causes all kinds of chaos for this small market town that normally has a population of under 16,000! 3,000 people take part in the parade and the town is closed from 2pm on the 5th so the town can prepare! It's AMAZING stuff and a sight to be seen.
Sound advice.
Luckily, we have a friend, Wally, who lives in nearby Brighton. We drove down to meet him early on Saturday afternoon and joined the queue at Brighton station at 6pm to go to Lewes. Preparation is key, as there are massive crowds so Laura got the tickets, I (Sarah) got the snacks & Wally got cash, we then made our way to the queue. It was a great time to catch up on all the news until I did a sense check about 45 minutes in and found out that in fact - Wally had the cash, I had the snacks BUT Laura DID NOT have the tickets!!!! She lost them! FREAK OUT!!! So being the 'sneaky girl' that I am (thanks, Laura) I feigned illness and got let out of the queue and with cheetah-like speed ran to the ticket office, got replacement tickets, and hurdled the nearest fence to arrive back in line before the police could catch me! After an hours queuing we boarded the train for a 15 minute ride to Lewes, on arrival we were herded in the direction of the town. The scene that met us was indescribable! First of all there is a lot of fire around - dropped on the street, held up, in barrels, on bonfires! And then there's the noise- it's loud! Laura had earplugs in and still jumped whenever a banger hit the ground - share in my enjoyment at her scared-ness HERE! ;D Hey, at least she didn't cry this year!
Poor Laura! I was no help either as I was too busy laughing at her! [captions written by Laura] 
Lewes do a great job of keeping everyone safe (as long as you have a level of common sense) but when the parade is upon you there is nothing stopping the heat of the flames, the noise of the bangers or the impact the band have. It is like nothing I have EVER seen anywhere else. See our video sample of the parade HERE!

It's also worth mentioning that every society have their own 'guy' to burn - some opt for the traditional 'Guy Fawkes' other go for something more topical- this year we saw Gaddafi, David Cameron (our prime minister), the Pope, Brighton FC's mascot (a big seagull) and Rebecca Brooks & Rupert Murdoch carrying the News of the World!
The Brighton FC mascot!

Murdoch and his mistress
After the parade has passed you choose a society's bonfire to attend and as we had to make sure and get the last train back to Brighton we decided to head to the 'Waterloo Societies Bonfire' - as we entered the field the Bonfire towered in the centre and we made our way towards it. After a while the Waterloo Society parade entered with their 'guy' (the News of the World) and then the fun started. The bonfire was lit and within seconds the sky was filled with fireworks. As every society starts their celebrations at roughly the same time every direction you look the sky is brightly coloured and a smoky haze fills the air- it creates a moment where you stand and look upwards in amazement with a broad grin across your face. Then you realise you are a little to close to the fire and make a run for the train!!!!
The bonfire and fireworks
Getting our faces melted off by the heat of the bonfire
It's certainly a good way to make sure you remember the 5th of November!
The amazing fireworks!!

The three of us had a great time!!


  1. I love it! Looks like you had an awesome time! Love youz!

  2. I never knew it was celebrated like that somewhere in the UK sounds amazing!

    M x

  3. Yeah, I'm surprised how not many people seem to know about it! Sarah and I would love to take you girls if you're both around next 5th November! :)


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