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Guy Fawkes and bonfire night story: Why we celebrate 5th November with fireworks

Remember, remember, the fifth of November...

05 November 2020

t's November 5, which means our minds can now turn to firework displays - even if we won’t be standing in muddy fields and eating toffee apples in the cold.

Yep, Bonfire Night has arrived and while lockdown means many events have been cancelled, plenty of people will hold their own display at home. 

We all know that today is when we light a bonfire and set off fireworks, but why do we do this? 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 2020?

This year Bonfire Night falls on a Thursday, 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.