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Bonfire Night and the Story of Guy Fawkes

October 31st 2016


“Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.


Hello guys! Today we would like to talk about the traditional Bonfire Night celebration that takes place on the 5th of November all over the U.K. and the rest of the world.

Every November, U.K. cities are illuminated by fantastic fireworks displays as thousands of people get together to celebrate Bonfire Night. This is the perfect occasion to meet up with your friends, practice your English, and get to know a bit about an eccentric part of British culture!


However, do you know the story behind Bonfire Night? Let’s discover it together…

Bonfire Night is the annual commemoration observed on 5 November in Great Britain. It is also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Guy Fawkes Night and Firework Night.

Who was Guy Fawkes? Born in York in April 1570, he was a key member of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, led by Robert Catesby, aimed at killing King James I of England.

At the age of 21, Fawkes became a soldier to fight against Protestant Dutch republic in the Eighty Years War of Spain. His military experience and gunpowder expertise was going to have a key role for the Gunpowder Plot conspiracy.

After 18 months of accurate planning, the assassination attempt on the King failed when Guy Fawkes was found and arrested at midnight on 4 November 1605 beneath the House of Lords. Thirty-six barrels of gunpowder were found stacked in the cellar directly below where the King would have been sitting for the opening of parliament the next day.

Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and the tradition continues today.

What happened to Guy next? Fawkes was sentenced to the traditional traitors’ death – to be ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’. Guy Fawkes instantly became a national boogeyman and the personification of Catholic extremism. Throughout the centuries, the Guy Fawkes legend has become ever-more entrenched, and by the 19th Century it was his effigy that was being placed on the bonfires that were lit annually to commemorate the failure of the plot.


Keep reading to see our guide to your local Bonfire Night celebrations!


Our recommendations for Bonfire Night:

Where can I go to celebrate Bonfire Night?

Winchester: This year the Winchester and Southampton Language Colleges will join forces to celebrate the 58th annual Winchester Round Table Bonfire & Fireworks event. The event will be held on Saturday 5th November and will consist of a torch procession through the city centre, a ceremonial lighting of the Bonfire by the Mayor of Winchester, ending in an impressive Fireworks spectacular! The event begins at 6pm with entertainment outside the Winchester Guildhall with tickets available for just £5 from the 31st of October. Come and speak to us at Reception for more information about this unmissable social event!

Southampton: This year, Southampton’s biggest Bonfire Night celebration will take place on Saturday 5th November in the city centre. The event will take place in Mayflower Park and will also play host to a fantastic fun fair starting at 2pm on the same day. This event is perfect for all ages and costs just £6 for adults and £4 for children (under-5’s go for free!). Don’t miss the firework show starting at 7:45pm! Buy your tickets here: http://www.mayflowerparkfireworks.co.uk/

Portsmouth: Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays will be hosting their Fireworks Extravaganza on the 10th of November. The event will consist of live entertainment and an impressive fireworks display set to music. The night will also feature the shopping centre’s Christmas lights switch on and customers will be able to kick start their Christmas shopping with stores staying open until 9pm. Get there from 6pm to take your place at one of the viewing spots at this free event! Click here for more information: http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/whats-on/gunwharf-quays-fireworks-extravaganza-p1340891

Bristol: For an alternative bonfire night experience in Bristol, head to Boiling Wells where the stunning woodland setting will be receiving a UV makeover for one night only! Tickets cost £5 but kids under 12 go free and all proceeds raised go to the excellent charity Dunkirk Women’s Refugee Centre (plus you’ll get a free glowstick!) The location is completely off-grid so don’t forget to take your torch and a sense of adventure! For more information, check out the farm’s website: http://www.swcityfarm.co.uk/bonfire-night-at-boiling-wells

What can I eat?

At the Bonfire Night, you can taste different traditional (and delicious) food.  Try the delicious sweet Candy Apples or Toffee Apples, apples covered by a sugar candy or toffee coating with a stick inserted as a handle.


For the chocolate lovers, there is the Bonfire Toffee or a hot chocolate.

Want to try something different? Look for the Parkin cake, a delicious combination of oatmeal, black treacle and ginger.

What can I watch?

V for Vendetta (2006)

Based on the infamous Gunpowder Plots and set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey who is rescued from a life-or-death situation by a masked vigilante known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he detonates two London landmarks and takes over the government-controlled airwaves, urging his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plot to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.



Enjoy your Bonfire Night celebrations from all of our TEG Colleges!



Glossary of terms:

Barrels: a cylindrical container, traditionally made of wood, often used to store such things as wine and famously used by Guy Fawkes to store the gunpowder used in the failed assassination attempt at the House of Lords.

Bonfire: a large open-air fire used for burning rubbish or as part of a celebration.

Boogeyman: an imaginary monster used to frighten children.

Cellar: a room below ground level in a house or building.

Commemoration: a ceremony or celebration in which a person or event is remembered.

Conspiracy: a secret plan by a group to do something illegal or harmful.

Effigy: a sculpture or model of a person which is made to be damaged or destroyed as a protest or as part of a ceremony.

Funfair: a travelling amusement park consisting of rides and other forms of entertainment (often involving the chance to win prizes).

Gunpowder: also known as black powder, gunpowder is the earliest known chemical explosive.

Glowstick: a plastic tube containing chemicals which react when the tube is bent (or snapped) producing a luminescent glow.

Off-grid: Not using or depending on public utilities, especially electricity. It can also refer to describe a state of being without modern technology, i.e. not accessing social networks/having a mobile phone/etc.

Procession: many people or vehicles moving together, especially as part of a ceremony (similar to a march or a parade).

Torch: a portable battery-powered electric lamp.

Traitor: a person who is seriously disloyal to another person or their country.

Woodland: an area of land covered with trees (similar to a forest).