This year’s Lewes Bonfire celebrations will take place on Monday November 5, as an independent collaboration event run by Lewes’ seven Bonfire societies.
The event is seen as a celebration of both the historical processions and the bonfire tradition, for which Lewes has a national reputation.
The event draws tourists from both the local area and from abroad.
From 8 pm onwards, spectators are treated to the Grand Processions, after which each society holds a separate bonfire at various sites around the historic town. Effigies of celebrities and political figures are paraded and burnt on the bonfire every year. Previous effigies include Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Pope Paul V.
Bonfires are set to be lit at around 9.30 pm and will be followed by the fireworks display.
Due to crowding issues in previous years, most of the bonfire sites require tickets for entry, which can be purchased from the Lewes Tourist Information Centre.
No trains will stop at either Falmer or Lewes from 5 pm onwards on the night, with normal service resuming the following morning.
A mass bike-ride to the edge of Lewes has been organised with three starting points.
One ‘bike train’ starts at the Level in Brighton’s town centre, meeting at 5.30pm.
The second train meets at Moulsecoomb Library at 6 pm and the third bike train starting point is Falmer House, meeting at 6.30pm.
The ride is set to be accompanied by a sound system, professional marshalls and a support vehicle.
Return rides are scheduled for 11 pm, midnight and 1 am, all meeting at Lewes Prison.
The earlier bonfire celebrations of Lewes, which were not regular annual events, rather spontaneous gatherings, often came close to riots.
These specific, unstructured events were banned by Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth years of 1649-1660.
However, by the 1820s, the popularity of the celebrations had returned.
In 1992, the police began making plans to increase regulations of the event. The local authorities were soon deemed ‘Enemies of the Bonfire’, and so in a diplomatic attempt to restore good community relations but maintain the event structure, a Bonfire Safety Council was established. This remains in place today.
The event has earned the town the label of bonfire capital of the world.
Picture Credit: Flickr: Dominic Alves