Heard a whistle and a bang? Foreign student describes first experience of Guy Fawkes Night
In her final year before graduating, De Montfort University International Relations and Journalism student Morgana Ribeiro enjoyed a chance to experience the Bonfire Night and Firework display in Abbey Park, Leicester.
Shortly after arriving in Leicester, I started exploring the green spaces around. It wasn’t long before I found Abbey Park and made it my go-to place. I have been to Abbey Park countless times since.
But never had I imagined I would see it ‘catch fire’, so to speak.
On Saturday (NOV 6) the biggest bonfire in Leicester was lit on one of Abbey Park’s beautiful lawns as a long firework display coloured the sky. It was Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night.
Before the dreadful restrictions COVID called for, every November would be welcomed by fireworks and celebrations – a nice contrast with the almost somber end of October. First, Diwali and then Guy Fawkes Night.
Very succinctly, Guy Fawkes Night is a commemoration of the failure of the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ in1605 – an attempted treason to the Protestant crown. Some say the fireworks launched on this day represent the explosives that were never used on that day in 1605.
In 2020 the global pandemic did not allow the celebration to take place, but it sure made a thunderous return this year.
I had received tickets for the event, courtesy of the International Student Support team at DMU, and agreed to attend almost oblivious to what it was. My i-buddy and I had no idea what awaited us. As we walked in, we watched performers dancing with fire, which was beautiful, and then we started to explore the funfair. There you could find your typical funfair games and my i-buddy, having never had a go, was eager to try and knock down some cans. So, we did – or tried.
As we walked back to the food stands, we saw it. We saw the fire burning. It was so bizarre. I mean, these were actual flames burning high and, mind you, surrounded by trees. But it was hypnotising. After getting a bag of chestnuts and a gigantic hot dog for my i-buddy we took a seat under a tree close to the fire. “It might keep us a little warmer,” we thought.
Then, cued by the hosts, everyone started a countdown excited. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we’d get to zero.
All the lights went out and the firework display started. It lasted for about 20 minutes, and it was brilliant. Being under the fireworks is a whole other experience.
By the end, it felt like the whole sky was sparkling in gold, red and green, which nearly made me sleigh right into the Christmas spirit.
We made our way out in the end as the lights went back on. The smell of fire and smoke from the beautifully loud show was now all that was left. It was a great experience overall and it allowed me to get to know the city a little better, which, really, is what this is all about.