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. 

Visions of the funfair. Photo by Hikari Funayama.

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. 

A sneak peak of the firework display. Video taken by Hikari Funayama.

Leicester Cathedral welcomes all to immersive ‘sound and light installation’

by Abigail Beresford

Leicester Cathedral is welcoming visitors this week to an immersive light and sound show, in co-ordination with Journeys Festival International, to allow attendees to connect with the world around them.

‘Where There is Light’ is an interactive experience, where visitors can walk amongst colourful and bright illuminations, whilst listening to the tranquil soundtrack of everyday people, discussing ways in which we can connect with our wider community, in the hope of improving cohesion.

ArtReach, BID Leicester and Leicester Cathedral have worked in conjunction with one another to bring the installation to Leicester.

“Where There is Light offers a beautiful moment, a break in people’s day-to-day lives, a space to look outside of themselves, to come together, and share a sense of connection and hope,” said Lynn Simmonds, General Manager of ArtReach.

“With the pandemic continuing to impact our daily lives, we hope to start to rebuild, reconnect, and transform how communities connect in a time of isolation and loneliness.”

The event is proving to be a popular hub for parents to entertain their children over the October half-term period.

“The kids have enjoyed trying something new and different, rather than being at home sat in front of their iPads all day,” told Logan McNamara, 34, father of two, visiting from Derbyshire.

“I think the concept is a great idea,” he added. “Introducing children to a world where we are all connected with one another is an essential. A life of isolation is all they know because of the pandemic, so encouraging them to get involved with the community around them is a big deal!”

“I’ve loved that my children have enjoyed coming here! It has allowed them to learn more about the world around them, whilst relating it back to our religious background,” said Julia Wright, 40, from Leicestershire.

Leicester is the first destination for the event, running until October 24, before further progressing to Portsmouth and Manchester.

Tickets are offered on a ‘pay what you can’ arrangement, where attendees can choose to make a charitable donation, or attend for free.

To book your ticket, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/where-there-is-light-tickets-169977821239

VIDEO: DMU student reflects on Wembley trip for FA Cup final

By Oliver Taylor

De Montfort University student Luke Pawley was one of the 6,250 Leicester City fans at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 15.

Luke was selected as one of two lucky journalism students to attend the FA Cup final.

With tears in his eyes, Luke watched as the club he has supported for his entire life lifted the trophy for the first time in its history.

Luke said: “I got a message about it first and I thought someone was winding me up! I then got a call and had it confirmed.

“I was there working for DMU as well so I knew I had a job to do there, but the overriding feeling was just pure, personal excitement.”

Video: Vegan market comes to Leicester

By Olivia Messum

Leicester opened its doors to an outdoor vegan market on Sunday (May 9) to give Leicestershire locals the chance to enjoy vegan foods from all over the country.

This event was held in Knighton and it was hosted by Vegan Events UK in order to give plant-based companies the opportunity to get recognised nationwide.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vegan Events UK were not able to host their annual vegan festival in London.

Instead, they have been setting up food stalls in various cities across the country so that the usual festival-goers are still able to enjoy the atmosphere of the event.

Holly Swift, a DMU student and Leicestershire resident, attended the market and said: “Because I’m not vegan, it was a new experience.

“I never would have tried any of the foods I had if I didn’t go there, so it was really nice to try all new foods. And they were all really nice as well.”

Holly also discussed the effect that this event will have on her future eating habits. She said: “I don’t think I could ever be fully vegan but the food was really nice so I would definitely be more inclined to choose the vegan option on the menu.”

With an admission fee of £4.48 per person, anyone can attend this event in the future. To learn more about Vegan Events UK and their upcoming markets, visit https://www.veganeventsuk.co.uk/events/ or contact their Facebook page: @VeganEventsUK.

VIDEO: Normality edges closer as next steps out of lockdown are announced

By Jayden Whitworth

Stage 3 of easing lockdown restrictions is set to go ahead on Monday, May 17, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK was on track for all restrictions to be lifted on June 23. 

It is at this stage that pubs and restaurants will be able to fully reopen their doors and welcome in customers both indoors and outdoors.

Indoor entertainment is also being given the green light to reopen its doors, with museums, theatres and cinemas opening up for the first time this year. 

Stadiums are also set to reopen to limited capacity with fans preparing to get to their first game in over a year.

Two households will also be able to meet indoors whilst the outdoor limit will rise to 30 people.

This will undoubtedly be welcomed by residents of Leicestershire who will be eager to get back out and things they enjoy doing.

For Leicestershire residents this will be a luxury they are unfamiliar with having spent most of the last 14 months in lockdown or localised lockdowns.

Ruben Wilson, 18, from Corby, said: “I think it will be very good to get back to pubs and restaurants with friends and family.

“With figures being the lowest they’ve been in months; I feel like we just need to get back to normal.

“I’m a little bit apprehensive but not too much.

“Obviously I’m looking forward to the pubs and restaurants being open indoors, but I’m looking forward to getting back to cinemas, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there now.

“It’s different to your pubs and restaurants but it’ll just be good to get back having a good time with your friends.”

The government will continue to look and analyse the data ahead of a safe return to normality on June 23.