Every year on 5 November, bonfires blaze and fireworks burst throughout the UK to commemorate a failed assassination plot against King James I and his ministers. Here is Culture Trip’s guide to the event, its origins and the ways it is celebrated today.
Bonfire Night, an annual event in the British calendar that marks the unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I, is commonly referred to as Guy Fawkes Night, after the legendary villain Guy ‘Guido’ Fawkes.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
However, many may be surprised to learn that Fawkes played a relatively small role in the 1605 assassination plot. The Gunpowder Plot – named for the perpetrators’ accelerant of choice – was actually the brainchild of Robert Catesby, an English Catholic intent on restoring a Catholic ruler to the British throne. Fawkes was merely a Catholic mercenary, hired to place and ignite barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords.
The day is associated with Fawkes simply because he was the one caught red-handed, after an anonymous letter sent to a member of the House of Lords alerted government officials to what was happening and led them to the place where Fawkes lay in wait. Fawkes was arrested and later executed for treason, and although Catesby and the other conspirators met the same fate, it is Fawkes who is burned as an effigy on Bonfire Night.
Legend says that, upon hearing of the king’s narrow escape from death, Londoners lit bonfires throughout the city in celebration. Months later, King James I declared 5 November a national day of thanksgiving for the failed tragedy, and the commemoration continues to this day. Celebrations include toffee-apple eating, brilliant firework displays, bonfires and effigy burning.
It is traditional to make a straw dummy of Fawkes to be placed atop the bonfire, but effigies have been updated to include modern-day figures of ridicule, including politicians, celebrities and other public figures. Competitions are often held, offering prizes to the most creative flammable dummies.
Another part of the celebrations includes a search of the Houses of Parliament by the Yeomen of the Guard, ceremonially marking the moment Fawkes was discovered and the plot thwarted.
Despite the fact that the original event took place hundreds of years ago, Bonfire Night is still a much-anticipated date for many people in the UK. The day has become associated with revelry, riotousness and magic, and is especially popular among small children.
If you want to celebrate the day in London, head to the Southwark Park Fireworks, which boasts a dazzling firework show, a funfair, a bonfire and hot-food stalls. Outside London (but still within day-trip distance of the city), the Fireworks Spectacular at Leeds Castle in Kent is not to be missed, offering attractions like fire juggling, fire breathing, fairground rides and live music.
With the tradition of Bonfire Night still going strong more than 400 years after the Gunpowder Plot took place, it is fair to say that the UK will always ‘remember, remember, the fifth of November’.
This story is an updated version first created by Eleanor Russell.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.