The Bonfire Night celebrations began on the heels of Halloween. The weekend had been ushered in with the sound of fireworks and the smell of wood smoke and BBQ. The celebrations started early and continued through the week. While I’m writing this, I can still hear the last of the fireworks being set off!
I had some previous knowledge of Bonfire Night from my family in Newfoundland. They usually call it Guy Fawkes night and celebrate with a big bonfire, local music, and burning the “Guy”: a Guy Fawkes effigy made of old clothes and stuffed with leaves, newspaper, or other flammable material. I was curious to see what Bonfire Night would be like in the UK especially in a big city like Glasgow.
The first thing I learned is that fireworks and sparklers are a big part of the night. Just before Halloween, our local grocery stores put up displays of fireworks as people began stocking up for the big night. I am currently student-teaching at a school, and in preparation for Bonfire Night, the children were working on paintings of fireworks displays and writing stories about holding sparklers with their families.
When Monday night finally rolled around, my flatmates and I planned to go to Glasgow Green for the fireworks show. As we were getting ready, we noticed crowds of people walking down the sidewalk under our living room window. We watched as large groups headed towards the Green, lit up by the flashing blue lights of the three firetrucks parked across the street from our residence.
We quickly bundled up, though it was a pretty mild and clear night for Glasgow. As we walked towards the Green we passed food trucks selling sweets and snacks, and as we got closer we heard the thumping bass of loud music. This Bonfire Night was a bit different than I was expecting: there were carnival rides and music being played before the big fireworks display. The crowd had really turned out and it was closely packed as everyone watched the fireworks and took pictures or videos on their phones. After the show, the fairgrounds remained open for another hour or so and offered carnival games, amusement rides for all ages, as well as fun houses and food.
My flatmates and I finally decided to brave the crowds and head back; luckily, we didn’t have far to travel as the crowd slowly dispersed through the city. I noticed my clothes smelled smoky, and there was a haze hanging in the air. The next day at school the children were very excited to share all their stories of Bonfire Night. It was certainly exciting to take in a UK-style Bonfire Night!