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by Mandy Barrow

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Bonfire Night in England

Bonfire Night is celebrated all over the UK, however, this page just refers to England, as this is where our students live.

Every year on 5th November, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes is remembered.


Throughout England, towns and villages....

  • light huge bonfires,
  • let off magnificent fireworks,
  • burn an effigy (a homemade model of a man, like a scarecrow) and
  • celebrate the fact the Parliament and James I were not blown sky high by Guy Fawkes.


Why do we have Guys and Fireworks on Bonfire Night?

The Guy (effigy) is made out of old clothes stuffed with paper or straw. The Guy is a reminder of Guy Fawkes.

The fireworks are a reminder of the gunpowder Guy Fawkes hid in the cellar of Parliament.


Traditional Bonfire Night Food

jacket potaoe in foilAs well as burning effigy of Guy Fawkes, the bonfires are used to cook potatoes wrapped in foil and to heat up soup for the crowds that come to watch the fireworks

The traditional cake eaten on bonfire night is Parkin Cake, a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.

Other foods include sausages cooked over the flames and marshmallows toasted in the fire.

image: firework paradeFirework Displays

In main town and cities, torch-lit processions are also popular on this night too. The procession leads to where the bonfire and firework displays are.

Bonfire Night Celebrations

The biggest fireworks display in Kent is the Edenbridge Display. They also have the biggest effigy, a 30ft 'Celebrity Guy'.

Celebrity Guy' at the bonfire celebrations in Edenbridge, Kent. Celebrity Guy' at the bonfire celebrations in Edenbridge, Kent.

Penny for the Guy

During the days before Bonfire Night, children used to take their home-made guys out on the street and ask for "a penny for the Guy" for fireworks. 


Children, in some areas, blacken their faces as Guy Fawkes might have done when he plotted to blow up parliament.

Flaming Barrels

In Ottery St Mary, teams of stalwart men carry flaming tar barrels on their shoulders down the length of the town’s High Street. When one man’s 50-pound barrel gets too hot to handle, another man takes over - then another, and then another, until the flames die out and the barrel crumbles into ashes.

Bonfire night in England

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.