Unusual Bonfire Night Traditions

By November 5, 2016Just for Fun, What's On

If you’re celebrating bonfire night tonight then you’re probably doing it with the whiz of fireworks, the crackle of a bonfire… and perhaps a toffee apple or two. That’s certainly what will be going on here in Hawkshead, with the annual Hawkshead firework display. However, that’s not the only way to “Remember, Remember the 5th of November”; we’ve been looking at some alternative celebrations going on across the UK that do things a little differently…

Viking Battles

Tutbury Castle in Derbyshire hosts an annual firework display which takes the emphasis away from Guy Fawkes and his nefarious plot, and puts it onto the Viking invaders. This means that, as well as the fireworks, BBQ and other traditional fayre, you’ll also see fire based Viking combat, a Viking funeral, fire-eating and a Viking living history camp.

While die-hard fans of tradition might wonder where the classic bonfire night story figures in all of this, we do love the idea of hijacking the celebrations to pay tribute to one of the most bloodthirsty groups ever to settle on England’s shores.

 Firework 5

Silent Displays

Loud fireworks can be great fun – but not everybody enjoys them, especially young children who can easily be frightened by the sudden noise. Various displays across the country have tried to counter this by focussing on the visual spectacle and removing as much noise as possible from the firework display.

If you think your family would benefit from a quiet display then there may well be one in your area; just be aware that even those described as ‘silent’ may still have some, smaller bangs.

 Burning the Barrels

This one isn’t for the fainthearted, since it involves burning barrels of tar being rolled and run through the streets of a small village in East Devon! A tradition that’s been going on for centuries, the flaming barrels are said to be a real spectacle, with 17 different ‘runs’ taking place, each starting at a pub – where else!

Although the tradition has, of course, evolved a little over the years to ensure the safety of all those who take part, it’s managed to stay surprisingly true to its routes – and they even sell badges stating that “you are here at your own risk”. It’s always great to see the traditions of ages gone by being carried into the modern age, especially since this is really what bonfire night is all about.

Topical Guy Fawkes

Firework 6

If you haven’t heard of the Lewes firework night celebrations before then we’ll be surprised; every year they seem to hit the news with another controversial ‘guy’, usually made in the image of a politician or disliked public figure. This turns the message of bonfire night by focussing on a message which criticises the establishment and makes a comment on current issues.

As well as the burning of cultural figures, they also have all the traditional elements that you’d expect from any other 5th of November event.


Well, while these all look like fascinating events, we still say that you can’t beat a barbecue, some toffee apples and an old-fashioned firework display… maybe all washed down by a refreshing pint of beer at the end! Whatever you’re doing tonight, remember to stay safe and follow firework safety advice – as well as any rules set at the event you attend.

We hope to see some of you in Hawkshead tonight, where the celebrations will be kicking off around 6pm.


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