Remember, remember the fifth of November… and so I shall. The Fifth of November, better known as Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night, is celebrated throughout London each year in celebration of the foiled plot to blow up Parliament by Guy Fawkes in 1605. I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the festivities this past Monday night with others from the UWSP Britain Study Abroad group.
We bundled up and headed to Primrose Hill, an extension of Regents Park on the north side, to get a clear view of the fireworks going on all across the city. People were already packed in at the top of the hill by the time we got there. There was an air of enjoyment and ease about the whole situation; drinks and jokes were shared. Adults and children, alike, lit sparklers and danced temporary lighted designs in the dark, and one group lit sky lanterns and we all watched in delight as the lanterns lifted into the night sky.
Most of the fireworks were out across the River Thames, a good distance away, but the experience was no less spectacular. In a way, those that had gathered at the top of Primrose Hill were getting the whole show, seeing all of London celebrating the night all at once.
Later in the evening a much smaller display was put on by some locals at the bottom of the hill, bringing the explosive festivities a little closer. That is, until they had a malfunction setting off four or five rounds at once that didn’t quite make it off the ground. The incident sent several individuals scampering for their lives amidst cries of surprise from those of us at the top of the hill. Luckily no one was injured.
Feeling the chill of the night we left happy and even a little homesick. Being familiar with such festivities at home made us think of events we were missing in the United States and with our families. Still, we considered it a treat that we should be able to participate in such a massive event and join with London in celebration and community.