4 Places to Celebrate the 400th Guy Fawkes Day in England

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November.” Each year, families across England gather to set off fireworks, build bonfires and toss an effigy of Guy Fawkes into the flames. It might sound ghoulish, but this 400-year-old tradition is a firm favourite among young and old.
 

1. The Tower of London

The White Tower at the Tower of London, photograph courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.

Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic rebel who took part in a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament and overthrow the protestant monarch, King James I, on Nov. 5, 1605. On The Yeoman Warder guided tour, you’ll learn more about Fawkes in the very place he was tortured and executed.

hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london

2. Alexandra Palace

Fireworks at Alexandra Palace, photograph by David Martyn Hughes/Alamy.

While you’ll see and hear families exploding fireworks above backyards across England around the first week of November, there are also plenty of public events. For something really special, head to “Ally Pally,” as some locals refer to it, to experience one of the biggest fireworks displays in London.

alexandrapalace.com

3. Lewes

Lewes bonfire night parade, photograph by Stephen Bardens/Alamy.

Travel to Lewes, south of London near the coastal town of Brighton, to attend the country’s largest bonfire celebration. Here, they not only burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, they also burn effigies of controversial, modern-day figures, including British and world politicians and celebrities.

lewesbonfirecelebrations.com

4. The Lantern at the Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum, photograph courtesy of Experience Oxfordshire.

The original Houses of Parliament cellar was destroyed in an 1834 fire, but visitors can still see a genuine artifact from the period. The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford houses Fawkes’ original lantern, which he was holding when he was captured.

ashmolean.org


Guy Fawkes Day By the Numbers

36

The number of barrels of gunpowder Guy Fawkes stashed underneath Parliament. The plot was designed to kill everyone inside the building, including members of the royal family.

500

The radius in metres experts estimate the explosion would have damaged had the plot succeeded—it would have led to a massive loss of life, including all attendees at Parliament.

1606

The year Guy Fawkes died. It is said that rather than face the gruesome practice of being hanged, drawn and quartered, Fawkes leapt off the gallows on Jan. 31, breaking his neck instantly.


[This story appears in the November 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]

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