Bonfire Night 2019: Who was Guy Fawkes and why do we mark the day with firework displays?

It’s that time of the year again when our minds turn to firework displays in muddy fields and toffee apples in the cold.

Yep, Bonfire Night is just around the corner and with London set to play host to a series of events, you can expect to see some spectacular displays lighting up the night sky over the next few days.

We all know that November 5 is when we light a bonfire and set off fireworks, but why do we do this, why do we burn effigies of people, and who was Guy Fawkes? 

Here’s everything you need to know about Bonfire Night.


What is Bonfire Night?

Every year people gather around in early November to celebrate Bonfire Night across the UK.

There are firework displays in public parks across the country and people light bonfires with an effigy to represent historical figure Guy Fawkes.

This quintessentially British activity each year refers to an event which could have changed the course of British history almost 400 years ago.

When is Bonfire Night 2019?

This year Bonfire Night falls on a Tuesday, but every year it is celebrated on November 5.

Who was Guy Fawkes and what was the Gunpowder Plot?

In 1605, a group of Roman Catholic activists arranged “the Gunpowder Plot”, an attempt to assassinate the Protestant King James I.

At the time, King James I reigned over a Protestant England but Robert Catesby and his band of 12 Catholics wanted greater religious tolerance and more freedom to practice their religion.

Guy Fawkes, an explosives expert, along with the rest of the group plotted to assassinate the king and blow up the Palace of Westminster during the state opening of Parliament.

Fawkes smuggled 36 barrels under the House of Lords into a cellar. However, he was caught and sent to the Tower of London, tortured to give up the names of his co-conspirators and then executed in January 1606 for high treason.

Throughout the years, countries belonging to the British Empire also celebrated his failure to blow up Parliament, but it is still a long-standing tradition to honour this day. 

If this isn’t enough to get you in the mood to celebrate, tune into BBC’s latest drama Gunpowder and watch dreamy Kit Harrington portray Guy Fawkes and watch the events unfold. 


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