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Bonfire Night in Leeds

Hopefully you have all recovered from your Halloween celebrations this week as on Monday 5th November its Bonfire Night! That means it time to wrap up warm and get you and your friends outside to watch some fireworks. If you’re not too sure of any happening near you there is always a huge bonfire with a firework display and a funfair in Woodhouse Moor near Leeds University campus.

Last year my flatmates and I put on our wellies and headed down there to watch them. We were really impressed by the size of the bonfire and the firework display was amazing to watch.

But why do we celebrate Bonfire Night?

Well on the 5th November in 1605 a man called Guy Fawkes was found guarding a pile of explosives beneath the House of Lords which when lit would effectively blow up Parliament and King James I. The planned explosion was discovered and across London people lit bonfires to celebrate the King’s survival.

Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot, a group of English Catholics who wanted to kill the King during the opening ceremony of Parliament. Fawkes was given the duty of watching over the thirty six barrels of gunpowder during the night to make sure that no one discovered it.

However, an anonymous letter was sent to the government tipping them off about the planned attack. As a result Fawkes was found and arrested. Had the plan worked successfully the House of Lords would have been nothing but rubble and dust.

Most of the conspirators fled London once they heard of Fawkes’ arrest but some stayed trying to encourage a stand against the Sheriff of Worcester who was ordered to find and arrest them. On the 27th January 1606 Fawkes and eight other men were convicted and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.

Some people, when arranging their bonfires, make a life size puppet (made of old clothes stuffed with straw or paper) to represent Guy Fawkes and put it on the bonfire to burn.

As well as lighting bonfires and having firework displays other traditions include cooking potatoes in tin foil by placing them safely on the fire and heating up soup for the crowds of people that gather to watch the display. The traditional cake eaten on Bonfire Night is called Parkin Cake, a sticky cake containing a mixture of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and sugar. Needless to say it is very sickly but tasty in moderation!

Another treat eaten on the 5th of November are toffee apples, which are exactly that; apples covered in toffee and left to harden. Technically one of your five a day people sometimes dip the toffee covered apple into hundreds and thousands to make them look colourful.

Image courtesy of Cutest Food,


With all of these traditional foods and treats to try there really is no excuse to get involved this Bonfire Night. If you’re not up for cooking and spending money on ingredients you could always buy a packet of sparklers which are always fun to have on Bonfire Night. There is always a desire to spell out your name and write the longest sentence before the sparkler fizzes out. Just remember to have a bucket of cold water handy to put the used sparklers in and wear gloves to protect your hands.

The event at Woodhouse Moor begins at 7pm and is free for anyone to attend. There is always a great atmosphere and at least you won’t have to spend any money to be allowed to watch the bonfire and fireworks. If you’re lucky to live in Henry Price residences then you can watch the display from the comfort of your own room!

So just like Halloween where I’m sure you made the most effort you could with your outfits, why not brave the cold weather of Leeds, put on your favourite fluffy hat and find some fireworks to watch?

I am a final year student at The University of Leeds studying Broadcast Journalism. I have been writing for Her Campus Leeds for nearly two years and I really enjoy it.I am obsessed with One Direction and Barack Obama and I make a great Ginger Spice!
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