This infamous and legendary celebration is the UK’s largest bonfire night. It commemorates and honors the failed attempt at the assassination of King James 1. It became known as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the subsequent arrest of Guy Fawkes who was found guarding explosives under the House of Lords – think V for Vendetta. Lewes Bonfire celebration is also in memory of 17 protestant martyrs that were burned at the stake. Locals and visitors participate in parades and parties, enjoy firework displays and obviously bonfires. There are several venues and locations that suit everyone’s preferred celebration style. This event is organized by seven bonfire societies and each throw their own meeting places, costumes, colors and parades.
The seven societies or sections are:
Cliffe: This society is recognized by their black and white sweaters as well as Viking and French Revolution costumes.
Commercial Square: This section is marked by Native American or American Civil War soldier costumes and smugglers wear gold and black striped sweaters.
Lewes Borough: This society is recognized by costumes that are Zulu and Tudor themed and smugglers wear blue and white striped sweaters.
Nevill Juvenile: This society is specifically for children where they dress like Valencians, Medieval citizens, and British military members from the early 20th century or wear green and white sweaters.
Southover: This section dresses as monks and/or pirates and they wear sweaters that are red and black. They have a Samba band and also carry burning crosses along with torches in their parade
South Street: This society dresses as 18th century British colonials and English Civil War soldiers or wear striped sweaters that are cream and brown.
Waterloo: This section wears costumes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans or Mongol invaders they also wear sweaters that are red and white striped.
“I genuinely cannot express how amazing Lewes bonfire night is. The whole town is in celebration with numerous different firework displays, barrel rolling and parades. The atmosphere is amazing and perfect for families … honestly worth travelling for”
The entire event is held in Lewes, Sussex, England. However, each of the seven bonfire societies are held in their particular area and have their own parades, pubs, bonfires and fireworks displays. The seven societies are Cliffe, Commercial Square, Lewes Borough, Neville, Southover, Waterloo and South Street.
You do have to buy a ticket for your preferred bonfire venue site. Each have a different vibe and some are more family friendly and other are for the more hardcore party goer. You can get your tickets at any independent retailer/pub or the Lewes tourist information center or the Cliffe Precinct area in the two or three Saturdays leading up to the Fifth or online at the Bonfire Society Website.
Roads leading into and out of Lewes are shut down before and after the event. Both locals and visitors advise against driving your own car and instead take public transportation. If you insist on driving make sure you arrive well before the event starts and expect to be stuck for a long time after.
There are heaps of hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts and Airbnb’s. For the best deals in Lewes head to the map below.
You will most likely want to do things before the night of celebration so that you are in good working condition. You can go paragliding, rock climbing, hiking as well as tree climbing tours and different parks to visit.
Among the most popular parks are the Lewes Priory Park and the Malling Down Nature Reserve and if the weather is not cooperating, there are several museums to spend the days in and of course pubs and cafes.
Lewes Bonfire Celebration will take place on November 5, 2019.
Get your tickets and costumes ready, you don’t want to miss out on this year’s Lewes Bonfire Celebrations.
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