Guy Fawkes Night has been a traditional British celebration since the early 1600s. Since then it has grown into a nation-wide event synonymous with fun and games, delicious food, and spectacular fireworks. Originally a tribute to King James overcoming an assassination attempt by Guy Fawkes and his group of dissenters, celebrations have branched out in modern times to make the 5th of November an occasion for all the family. Find out why we still celebrate the way we do with Jurys Inn’s Guide to… Guy Fawkes Night.
Fireworks have been a part of the 5th of November festivities for centuries, and they pay homage to the failure of the gunpowder plot intended to blow up the House of Parliament. The failure of the plot was celebrated by setting fire to gunpowder laced with other substances, a custom still carried on today but with much more extravagant results.
All over Britain, firework displays are held in public parks, fields, and even in peoples’ back gardens, now more of a traditional activity rather than being directly related to the politics of the occasion. Look around for a local firework display to take friends and family, or if you’re hosting your own, have a look at the government guide to safety and celebrations on Bonfire Night.
Bonfires had been around many centuries before Guy Fawkes Night, but they became entwined when it was rumoured that bonfires were lit on the very same night as the gunpowder plot, as a mark of celebration for its failure. Early traditions involved children painting their faces black with ashes to imitate Guy Fawkes, who was believed to have done the same as a way to camouflage himself.
Bonfires go hand in hand with firework displays on Bonfire Night, and can be found across the country as part of the night’s celebrations. They’re used for effigies as well as a method of cooking potatoes and heating bowls of soup for the crowds of people. If you’re having your own bonfire, read the government’s rules about garden bonfires for all the necessary precautions.
Burning of effigies has been commonplace as part of Bonfire Night since its beginnings, where townspeople would set fire to figures of Guy Fawkes and other popularly disliked people. The effigy was normally referred to as ‘The Guy’, and as part of the early tradition, children would make figures of The Guy and carry them through the streets, singing “Penny for the Guy!”
The effigies were normally grotesque, with a wicked face and sometimes a brightly coloured mask, and the money gained from parading these around would go towards buying fireworks for the Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.
No gathering is complete without a selection of great food and drink for the party-goers, and Guy Fawkes Night brings about the perfect occasion to enjoy some seasonal comfort food. Celebrate Bonfire Night with autumn vegetable soups or rich, slow cooked stews, watch the fireworks with finger food, and bring the evening to a close with a delicious pudding.
Tradition points to delicious grub like grilled sausages, parsnip soup, Parkin cake, toffee apples, and marshmallows toasted over the bonfire. Browse these Bonfire Night recipes for more ideas.
Guy Fawkes Night is a great time to get family and friends together and enjoy the occasion with some fun games and entertainment. Fun activities for children include a Build-a-Guy session, using old clothes and stuffing, as well as party games like apple bobbing or doughnuts on a string.
Set up a great playlist or find a couple of old favourite movies, decorate with a nice autumn theme, prepare the garden for fireworks or a bonfire, and enjoy the happy occasion with your family and friends!
If you’re planning to attend a firework display in a city centre somewhere across the UK, don’t forget to book a room at your local Jurys Inn!