In the UK, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes is celebrated on November 5th and the night skies are filled with colour. It's a special day in honour of a historic event.


The history

The year was 1605 and some English Catholics were angry because the King of England, James the first, was treating them badly. In November 1605 a group of men made a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament (the government buildings) in London. An enormous explosion was planned for November 5th. This was the day that the King was due to open parliament. The plan is known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ and the leader of the group was called Guy Fawkes. The men put 36 barrels of gunpowder (a type of explosive) in the Houses of Parliament and they waited for the King to arrive. The group decided that Guy Fawkes should light the gunpowder and cause the explosion. Did they succeed? No, they didn’t. The police found the gunpowder before it exploded and they caught all the men involved in the plot. The men were tortured and killed. To celebrate his survival, King James ordered the people of England to have a bonfire on the night of November 5th.

Bonfires, Guys and fireworks

On November 5th people remember the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament by celebrating ‘Bonfire Night’. All over Britain there are firework displays and bonfires with models of Guy Fawkes, which are burned on the fire. The Guy is made of old clothes and the clothes are filled with newspaper. The Guy is a reminder of Guy Fawkes. The fireworks are a reminder of the gunpowder that Guy Fawkes hid in the cellar of Parliament. Some people have a small bonfire in their garden on November 5th. In main towns and cities there are big bonfires and firework displays. The biggest fireworks display is the Edenbridge Display in Kent. Edenbridge also has the biggest Guy. A 9-metre ‘celebrity’ model is burned there every year. Last year the celebrity Guy was Wayne Rooney wearing Shrek–style ears and a Manchester United football shirt.


It’s normally quite cold in November in Britain, so on Bonfire Night people wear hats, scarves and gloves to spend the evening outside. They need some warm food too. Traditional Bonfire Night food is hot baked potatoes. The potatoes are cooked on the bonfire and filled with butter and cheese. There are also toffee apples (apples on a stick, covered in sweet toffee) and in the north of England they eat a special type of cake called parkin. Cooking marshmallows on the bonfire is also popular. Yum!

Penny for the Guy

In Britain only adults can buy fireworks but in the past they were sold to children too. During the days before Bonfire Night, children used to take their home-made Guys onto the streets and ask for ‘a penny for the Guy’ to collect money to buy fireworks. Now you have to be over 18 to buy fireworks, and safety on Bonfire Night is an important issue.

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Which special days do you celebrate in your country with fireworks or bonfires?


GeeklyChic18's picture
GeeklyChic18 16 April, 2016 - 15:29

I live in Georgia and we don't celebrate bonfire night, but I didn't know that this event exists. it's history was very interesting. It would be cool if we had bonfire night ^_^ we use fireworks for some events like New year, Birthdays, Parties and etc. and children under 18 can buy fireworks on their own, :/ and some of them have many accidents, I think the safety about fireworks must becjust as important issue such as UK.

78 users have voted.
Rockyy's picture
Rockyy 30 August, 2014 - 07:18

In Turkey, when spring comes we celebrate Hıdırellez and it's like Bonfire Night. Like in Iran we jump over the small fire. And you write your wishes on paper than throw away to the river or lake it doesn't matter. And some people give biscuits, choclate, lokum -turkish dessert- etc to the guy. And if you want you can dance all night!

173 users have voted.
Ilehana's picture
Ilehana 20 July, 2013 - 19:03

Usually, in The New Year's Day, in Colombia is made something similar, in order to forget the Past Year, we make a men with old clothes and full with gunpowder and hay, this men is called ''El Año Viejo'' or ''The Old Year'' in english , in the whole country we burn it up at midnight and celebrate that the ''Old Year'' has passed and a New Year is to come, fireworks and bonfires are lighted up and we start to embrace our family and friends, and share typical food with others... it's an awesome day.

225 users have voted.
jenniferkim's picture
jenniferkim 15 January, 2013 - 07:19

In South Korea we don't Bonfire night.
I hope we have a day for fireworks and bonfires. I think it will be a great fun!!
When we go to amusementpark we can watch fireworks but we don't really do bonefire very rarely when we go camping. but nowadays we don't really do bonfire even in camping.
I want to do bonfire I think it will be fun.
All my friends sit around the bonfire and eat potatoes and sweet potaoes.

262 users have voted.
etleva hoxha's picture
etleva hoxha 4 January, 2013 - 10:13

In november my contry celebrate the 100th anniversary of the independence and the capital city had organized a party and at the end of the celebrations threw a lot of fareworks..

246 users have voted.
Edelweiss's picture
Edelweiss 8 August, 2012 - 08:06

In Romania, we celebrate everything with firework. The New Year's Eve, great Romanian men's birthday, so all the holidays. When I was younger, we and my sisters used to look at the fireworks from the attic's window. It was a superb!

300 users have voted.
Little Dragon's picture
Little Dragon 10 July, 2012 - 09:01

Hmm, in Vietnam, we celebrate the Lunar New Year Eve, the National Day and someday like that with fireworks. I haven't heard about the Bonfire Night before, and now I know that in somewhere in the Earth, people celebrate this day. Great !

279 users have voted.
Simon's picture
Simon 17 May, 2012 - 02:22

Hi Rihanna, That's very interesting, I had no idea that you celebrated something so similar in Iran. Thanks for telling us! 

Does anybody else celebrate a special day with fireworks?

Simon (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

269 users have voted.
Negar1995's picture
Negar1995 7 September, 2013 - 08:57

hi simon as rihanna said we celebrate this day in last tuesday night of the year. u should know that its amazing people are in the street and they jump above the fire. and they sing a special song! thats great!!

202 users have voted.
Starlette Lady's picture
Starlette Lady 5 November, 2012 - 17:25

We don't celebrate Bonfire Night but we do use fireworks for New Year's Day and Independence Day and other national holidays. Sometimes ordinary people make fireworks to mark something important for them, like birthdays or whatever. I remember my dad making a firework for me on my 9th b-day. It was so sweet of him :)))

291 users have voted.
rihanna's picture
rihanna 15 May, 2012 - 14:43

In Iran, Bonfire Night is celebrated on last tuesday night of the past people jump over the small fire but nowdays people use's so fun & exciting.

280 users have voted.