Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night in Hastings

Bonfire night
photo by Guus Krol off Flickr
It’s that time of year again; Bonfire night. I have to admit that I’d never heard of this tradition till I moved to the UK, but I've really come to love it.  I've been to many bonfire night parties and displays over the last 9 years of my London life. There were the firework displays in Victoria Park and Battersea Park. There were the house parties complete with bonfire in the back yard and fireworks that ended up in my hair. (That’s a completely different story though.)

But my favourite is the annual commemoration of the Battle of Hastings which was fought back in 1066. It’s celebrated every year in October with much gusto. I've been twice and it’s great to be among the many revelers and watch the mesmerising torch parade meander through the ancient streets after which the grandest firework show in the region concludes the evening. Or so they claim in Hastings. It’s quite an intriguing night out, some might say a bit rowdy, but it’s something I think you have to see once in your life.

Photo by Dean Thorpe under Creative Commons licence

The atmosphere in Hasting during this event is very buzzing. The parade kicks off after six runners run up Beacon Hill and light their torches at the summit. They bring down the fire to light all the other torches of the 1066 people that are in the parade. The parade mainly consists of members of the many bonfire societies from Hastings and other towns in the area. And of course they wear fancy dress for the occasion. There are pirates, witches, ladies of pleasure and I even spot a Henry VIII.

Bonfire night
Photo by Heijmans off flickr
The parade follows a route through the old town and then goes onto the beach where a massive stack of wooden crates has been built on the sand. It’s about a two story flat high and when the torch bearers start throwing in their torches the flames of the bonfire reach so high and are so powerful, that we can feel the heat from the flames glow on our faces even though we are standing about fifty metres away. The people around us are cheering loudly.

Photo by Dean Thorpe under creative commons licence
Then the fireworks display starts and I have to admit that we are treated to a pretty awesome show. After the grand finale of an orchestra of bangs and colours we move onto the beach and closer to the bonfire which seems to have gone down a lot. It is now surrounded by what seems to be the entire teenage population of Hastings. There’s a laid-back atmosphere and we hang around till it’s time to go back to the B&B. After seeing all this, I realise it really it doesn't matter who won the battle of Hastings in 1066. It’s a great event and a good opportunity to drink and be merry till the wee hours of the morning.


  1. I also like this tradition. It's not only a really good night out, but also a mark that the Christmas is coming and that's my favourite part of the year :)

  2. And depending on what day the 5th falls, you can celebrate this one a couple of times. Three times this year!! ;-)

  3. Great pictures of fireworks, they are very difficult to photograph! Good job and a very nice post.

  4. Unfortunately they are not mine...
    My dinky little camera couldn't do the job.
    But thanks for the post compliment!!