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Remember, remember, the 5th of November AKA Bonfire Night in Scotland!

Updated: May 6, 2023

As November approaches, you might have heard about Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night. For those who aren’t British you might ask yourself what is that all the people are talking about.

So then, what is Bonfire night?

This fire cracking evening steps back to 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his friends failed to blow up King James I and the House of Parliament; if you have seen V for Vendetta, Guy Fawkes is the guy behind the inspiration of the famous Hollywood movie. It is also called the night of the “Gunpowder plot” because the explosive placed beneath the House of Parliament was designed to disrupt the ceremony in which King James I’s 9 years old daughter had to be appointed as the Catholic head of State.

When is Bonfire celebrated?

The bonfire night is celebrated every year the 5th of November; it represents a reminder that treason would never be forgiven or forgotten.

Funny thing you might not know is that the celebrations used to be compulsory. The government was so relieved after Guy Fawkes’ capture that they approved a law compelling people to celebrate the 5th of November. It wasn’t originally a fun day with sparklers and hot drinks but quite a rough celebration with violence often easy to flare up and against Catholicism.

The event remains very popular throughout Britain; both fireworks and bonfires are very common ways to celebrate it and you might have seen already in your town signs of Bonfires or Fireworks display the 5th of November or around that date.

What are the traditions on bonfire Night?

The first one is very easy to guess, Fireworks. There is no Bonfire night without fireworks display all around the country. Usually they are held in the main city parks or wide areas where people go at dinner time and watch the show while sipping hot drinks and listening to music.

Bonfires are also a big part of the celebrations even though they are starting to disappear; for health and safety reason organising a Bonfire requires a lot of preparation and control; in fact having lots of people staring in front of a giant fire is not always the best idea if there are kids running around and no fences or protections. A little curiosity: the first firework let off in Scotland has been traced as far back as 1507 when so-called ‘fireballs’ were used by James IV in a tournament.

A penny for the Guy is another tradition which involves the burning of Guy Fawkes effigies at the top of a bonfire. Basically in the past children used to go door to door and ask people for “a penny for the Guy” and with the spare change they collected, they would make a scarecrow and then basically burn it at the top of the bonfire.

Older and less safe traditions have seen people leap across half-consumed bonfires but in these health and safety conscious times, it’s very rare to see this happening.

Sparklers are another tradition during Bonfire night especially if fireworks scare you, although not every venue allow you to bring them along, so please check with the organisers beforehand.

Where can you go to celebrate Bonfire Night?

From Glasgow to Inverness, to Aberdeen and Perth there is a display for everyone to enjoy around Scotland. These are the closest Bonfire displays if you are staying at The Highland Club:

-Inverness, Tuesday 5th of November, Bught Park, Inverness, from 5:30pm This Civic Bonfire and Fireworks Display, sponsored by the Inverness Common Good Fund,  is one of the highlights on the year. The show starts with the opening of the funfair at 17:30 followed by entertainment around the giant bonfire from 19:00. This will be lit by the Provost at 19:30 and fireworks will commence around 19:55. Admission is free and sparklers are not allowed.

-Glengarry, Craigard Park Invergarry, date and time to be confirmed.

You can also check VisitScotland website for more displays here.

Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent To blow up king and parliament. Three score barrels were laid below To prove old England’s overthrow.

By god’s mercy he was catch’d With a darkened lantern and burning match. So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring. Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him? Burn him!

This post was first published 17th October 2019

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