What is the story behind Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes’s gunpowder plot and why do we celebrate it?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
What is the story behind Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes’s gunpowder plot and why do we celebrate it?
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The clocks have gone back and Halloween has passed. It'll soon be Christmas but first, we'll celebrate Bonfire Night.

On Friday November 5, there will be spectacular bonfire nights and toffee apples galore. But do you actually know why we remember, remember the fifth of November?

Here's everything you need to know about Bonfire Night and why it's celebrated.

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 it?

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

What year was Guy Fawkes’s Gunpowder Plot, what was the story and why do we celebrate it?

In 1605, a group of Roman Catholic activists arranged their Gunpowder Plot, but it failed. At the time, King James I reigned over a Protestant England the group wanted the freedom to practise their religion.

Guy Fawkes, an explosives expert, along with the rest of the group plotted to assassinate King James 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.

As a result of the failed plot, James I celebrated his survival by making the people of England have a bonfire on the night on 5 November.

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.

Bonfire Night

Facts about Guy Fawkes’ night

1. Guy Fawkes was not the ringleader of the plot to blow up the House of Lords – he was just one of a group of 13 men.

The leader was Robert Catesby, Fawkes was the one who had the job of lighting the fuse, and so it was him that was caught in parliament’s cellars with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

2. November 5 was initially known as Gunpowder Treason Day and bonfires were lit as a celebration that the King hadn’t been killed.

3. The tradition of burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire didn’t start until around the 18th century.

4. Fawkes was a Protestant before, but converted in his teens.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting