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That night of the year that slips shyly in after the hype of Halloween and the soon-to-be build up to Christmas is nearly here. The night where we wear three pairs of socks, wellies, our large winter coat, hat and scarf, and stare gormlessly up into the sky waiting for the fireworks. Bonfire Night – aka Guy Fawkes Night.
It’s strange how we are so used to the traditions of fireworks night and yet we rarely remember the real reason we are there, apart from the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aahh’s’ sounding from the crowd as the fireworks are let off. The usual complaints of how cold it is, how long you wait around and how short the firework display is are widely known but subsequently forgotten each year.
We do all keep with the tradition. We have a scarecrow or a Guy made out of old clothes and stuffed with paper on a stake that we burn. But should we reflect more on the idea that the Guy in the bonfire is a symbol of Guy Fawkes – one of the people who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The fireworks are a reminder of the gunpowder that Guy Fawkes hid in order to do this.
Bonfire Night began as a celebration of the discovery of his plot against the King. In a rage against King James, a group of Catholic men plotted his death, and although by no means the head of the plot (that was Robert Catesby) it was Guy Fawkes who was found on the morning of November 5, and taken to the Tower of London to be tortured and eventually executed. But these origins have been almost lost save for primary school lessons.
So we might not be celebrating the survival of King James and the protestantism reign when we go to a firework display each year – but we are still here to celebrate. November 6 kicks off this year’s fireworks display in Lancaster in Ryelands Park. The event is from 7-9pm but the fireworks don’t start until 8pm. The event will also be going on during the day, with themed walks, lantern making and street entertainment. In Ryelands Park itself on the night there will be a fairground, refreshments and entertainments as well as BBC radio Lancashire broadcasting live from 7pm. Advice from last year though, there will be mud. It will be cold. And there are a lot of people so if you do want to visit the fairground and refreshment area then get down early, if you don’t – get there for when the fireworks start.