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All about Bonfire Night and where to celebrate

Alice Ostapjuk

If you’re an international IconInc resident and a first year student, the chances are that you won’t have celebrated Bonfire Night before. It’s a truly British holiday and a whole load of fun – you’ve got to join in with the festivities!

Find out all about how Bonfire Night came to be, who the infamous Guy Fawkes is, and where to find the best firework displays in Liverpool and Leeds.

What is Bonfire Night?

Bonfire Night is the anniversary of an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, on 5th November 1605. The attack was supposed to assassinate King James I and his government.

You might hear people talking about the Gunpowder Plot at this time of year. That’s because 36 barrels of gunpowder, hidden in the cellars below the Houses of Parliament, were going to be used to create the explosion.

Why did the Gunpowder Plot come about?

Basically, there was a lot of religious unrest. England had been a Protestant country since 1570, during Elizabeth I’s reign, and Catholics throughout the country had been victimised ever since. Then when King James I was crowned in 1603, English Catholics dared to hope for change but this wasn’t to be and the country remained Protestant.

The group who planned the Gunpowder Plot wanted to start an uprising against the crown and bring a Catholic monarch into power.

So who’s Guy then?

It’s a common mistake that Guy Fawkes was the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plot. It was actually a man called Robert Catesby who first started the scheme to kill the King. Guy was brought in because he was an expert in explosives.

When the plot was uncovered, because of an anonymous letter, it was Guy that was found guarding the barrels of gunpowder. He was discovered just after midnight on 4th November, waiting for the State Opening of Parliament, which was going to happen the next day on November 5th.

How to celebrate Bonfire Night

Since 1605 Brits have celebrated the foiling of the Gunpowder plot by lighting bonfires every year, on 5th November. But no bonfire is complete without a Guy on top! You can make a Guy out of all sorts of things: straw, pillows, papier-mache and old clothes.

Over the years firework displays became associated with Bonfire Night too. You’ll also see people waving sparklers and tucking into toffee apples! Nowadays, it’s as much about embracing the dark autumn nights, as it is about celebrating the survival of James I so be sure to make the most of the festivities.

Where to find student-friendly celebrations

In Liverpool:

The closest firework display to The Ascent will be the River of Light event. This year’s display is set to be absolutely spectacular and will be accompanied by music created especially for the event.

Where: The docks
When: Sun 4th Nov
Time: 6.30pm
Price: Free

In Leeds:

You’re spoilt for choice in Leeds with celebrations all over the city but the closest display (and clear student favourite) to The Glassworks and The Edge is Woodhouse Moor. There’ll be a bonfire and fireworks.

Where: Woodhouse Moor
When: Mon 5th Nov
Time: 7pm
Price: Free

Roundhay Park’s celebrations are always popular with Leeds locals. They’ve been doing it for years and it’s always a great event with a bonfire, food and a huge firework display.

Where: Roundhay Park
When: Mon 5th Nov
Time: 7.30pm
Price: Free

If Monday night isn’t great for you try The Chemic Tavern’s firework display on Friday 2nd. The fireworks will start at 9.30pm and there’s going to be plenty of bevvies and bonfire foods.

Be sure to share how you spent Bonfire Night on Instagram by tagging #iconinc and you might even win a free night’s stay in a Roomzzz Aparthotel for your trouble!

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