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Reflecting on Lewes Bonfire Night

Nov

15

Bonfire Night is the one must-see event everyone talked about during international orientation.  On the 5th of November, hundreds of students and area residents walk, bus, drive, or train into Lewes for a spectacle that nobody can really prepare you for.  My friends and I chose to walk with the University of Sussex's walking society through the back paths and farmlands of Sussex.  It took around two hours to get to Lewes through the dark and mud.  It's a fun time to chat with your friends and build up the anticipation of the actual parade and bonfire celebration, although it was rather long and muddy - proper walking, all-weather shoes are a must.  Once (finally!) in Lewes there were just hordes of people lined up along the road for the parade to start. The atmosphere and energy is unmatched from any parade I've been to before. We watched a small procession of bonfire societies go one way, then there was a break until the main procession began.  Every walker in the parade was in costume, even the little kids, and they all had torches and fire crackers, chanting, and music.  Be prepared to hear loads of loud popping when you least expect it - these society members are fearless.  

After the parade we proceeded to one of the several bonfires in the area.  It cost 5 pounds to get into the actual area of the bonfire, but I believe it was well worth it.  Once the bonfire was lit it warmed everyone up, and the firework displays began.  Since so many bonfires were close together, we ended up seeing four huge firework displays that rival Fourth of July celebration fireworks back home.  It was truly an experience I won't forget. My advice for anyone in the dark about the whole event as I was is to dress in many layers- it's cold! Be excited and energetic; have fun!  Stay with your friends and look out for one another as it is a big event with lots going on.  Read up on the cultural significance behind the event, you'll appreciate it much more, and always "remember, remember the 5th of November."