The UK has a variety of strange traditions, but one of the most fun and well-known ones is that of Bonfire Night. Otherwise known as Guy Fawkes’ Night, thanks to the way it came about, it happens on the 5th of November every year. The actual history of the day involves a lot of detailed political context, but to put it briefly: Guy Fawkes tried to blow up British Parliament in order to kill the King and bring about a new government. He was caught before his plan succeeded. Since then people have built and lit bonfires and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes in celebration. And these days the effigies are far more likely to be generic figures, or occasionally celebrities and politicians people really don't like!
Bonfire Night can easily get expensive and dangerous if you’re not careful, so follow our tips to make sure you have a cheap, fun, and – mostly importantly – safe Bonfire Night.
One of the easiest and safest ways to celebrate Bonfire Night is to look around for local events. Most student cities will have something happening, whether it's linked with the university or not. Look for interesting locations – for instance, Bristol has fireworks down at the Harbour, leading to a spectacular clash of colours all reflected in the water below. Some of these events will require a paid entrance, and this can be worth it if as the paid ones usually have the more elaborate events. That said, there are plenty that are open-access! Depending on what you want from the night, you could easily organise a house party and then watch from the garden – because let’s face it, it’s free to look up in the sky!
However if you don’t want to go to an organised event – or if there’s nothing near you to attend – please heed our advice to have a safe and fun Bonfire Night.
1. Don’t Buy Your Own Fireworks It might seem tempting to buy your own fireworks and light them but this is the easiest way to ruin your night. Firstly, you'll need lots of space to manage this, and most student houses won't have that. Secondly, the cheap ones are terrible, and you don’t want to splurge on the expensive ones if you don’t know what you’re doing. Pus, as a student you probably don’t have much by way of spare cash. Most importantly though, they can be risky to set off and the easiest way to reduce that risk is to avoid having any in the first place.
2. Don’t Let Drunk People Light Fireworks/Bonfires If you end up at a party where people did buy their own fireworks, the best thing you can do is to not let the drunken people near them! Equally, if you’re having a bonfire, don’t put people likely to get drunk in charge of it. Drunk students and fire do not go together.
3. Check Your Bonfire Materials If you are planning to have a bonfire, make sure you’re not using any materials that could go wrong! Avoid plastics, rubber, and damp materials, as well as anything possibly toxic. Check that the bonfire you build is firmly balanced and, before you light it, double check for wildlife – like hedgehogs! And make sure you've got a handy water source nearby too.
4. Buy Sparklers If there’s one thing that is worth investing in, it’s sparklers. These are really cheap and much easier to deal with safely than fireworks, and they're always great fun. Why not try making some light-art photos with them – see how quickly you can write messages in the air and catch them with a long-exposure? Just make sure to have a bucket of water somewhere near by to pop them in when you're done. And it’s always best to handle them while wearing a pair of gloves.
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