Lewes Bonfire Night 2019

November 06, 2019

Remember remember the 5th of November.......

We had been meaning to attend this event for many years, and on the 5th November 2019 we finally made the trip with my camera!

Trust in God & keep your gunpowder dry.......

Lewes, a place that keeps tradition and good old fashioned fun and values alive! On the 5th of November Lewes is home to one of the biggest bonfire festivals in the country. But it is not simply the size of the event that impresses, it is the community spirit, pride and elaborate costumes that really puts a spark into the air! Hundreds of people participate in the parade that hosts the towns and neighbouring bonfire societies. Families, men, women and children hold up their burning torches high and clothing styled back to the early 1800s is worn with convincing authenticity, most bearing tears and burn marks from many bonfire nights before! The parade of fire streaks through the old streets of the town, making many twists and turns and part of the game is following along and trying to predict where the parade will turn next. Banners bearing powerful messages such as 'Faithful Until Death' and 'No Popery' are carried by marching Bonfire Society members who proudly sport their parade badges and society emblems. As they pass you feel the heat from their torches and the spit of sparks from their great flaming barrels. It is essential to pay close attention anytime you see anyone lighting a fuse, as seconds later the street will explode with fire crackers, and lets not forget the fantastically loud 'rook scarers' that will send sound vibrations right through your rib cage! Canons are also wheeled through the town, perhaps the loudest booms of all that produce and endless choir of gleeful shrieks and applause from the spectators. There are 7 main bonfire societies, Cliffee being known as the most notorious for its delightfully outrageous effigies and huge fire displays. This year a float of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg was toured around the town, before its inevitable fate of being cast into the flame. In fact all of the floats receive the same fate, some being obliterated by cannons before they are set alight.

Gunpowder Treason and plot.......

It is not just the story of Guy Fawkes that is commemorated, there are many ceremonies that are held in memory of the great wars, and also the group of 10 protestant martyrs who were burned at the steak in Lewes in 1557. This was the largest human bonfire that Britain has ever seen and their fate has become the stuff of local legend.

A night to remember......

After the parade ceremonies and marches came to a close, the 7 bonfire societies split up and headed to 7 different locations in and around Lewes. Here each hosted their own huge bonfire and firework display, as well as some truly hilarious and hair raising traditions that included 3 members voluntarily standing on a platform and having fire crackers hurled at them. The firework displays were also phenomenal, and the amount of effort and planning that goes into this event is just mind blowing. We can say with confidence that this was definitely the most fun we have had on bonfire night. The locals were friendly and very proud of their traditions, and we enjoyed many stories of 5th of Novembers gone by! We love how these traditions are still going on much the same as they always have, and that the red tape has not managed to smother out the life and soul of the party. For Lewes, bonfire night is truly a night to remember, and may the madness continue for years to come!


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