Glasgow: Bonfire Night

Glasgow: Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes is celebrated throughout Britain, but few put on as good a show as Glasgow. David Pollock investigates

Those of you who’ve seen the V For Vendetta film might be forgiven for thinking that the design of the lead character V was an original piece of work. In fact, the cape, stovepipe hat and bearded facemask look was borrowed by V’s creators, the cartoonists Alan Moore and David Lloyd, from the image of Guy Fawkes.

Fawkes is viewed as an iconic revolutionary figure in British history, and the anniversary of his and a group of Roman Catholic conspirators’ attempts to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament in 1605 is celebrated around the nation on the 5th of November. The tradition of lighting a bonfire, setting a ‘Guy’ – an effigy of Fawkes – to burn on top and holding a large-scale fireworks display is followed in most of the UK’s major towns.

Like most traditional festivals, the exact reason for Guy Fawkes Night’s celebration has been muddied over time. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is still taught in schools, and although the event’s original intent was to celebrate the foiling of the plot and the deliverance of King James I from assassination, there are those who see Fawkes himself as bit of an anti-establishment hero.

Whatever their opinion, commemoration of the night is a national pastime. Many people put on their own firework displays in back gardens or some choose to just hang out their windows and stare sky-wards, catching any displays that are bound to be going on nearby. However, if you fancy seeing a proper fireworks inferno then the largest organised display in Scotland is held on Glasgow Green every ‘Bonfire Night’ or ‘Guy Fawkes Night’.

On the evening, around 50,000 spectators turn up to see more than 3,000 fireworks being let off, to a chorus of delighted ‘ooh’ing and ‘aah’ing. It’s probably not quite what Fawkes had in mind.

Glasgow Fireworks, Glasgow Green, Thu 5 Nov, 6.30pm, free event.


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