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What is Guy Fawkes Night in Scotland?

4th Nov 2021
What is Guy Fawkes Night in Scotland?

There’s lots to celebrate towards the end of the year in Scotland. One of those things being Guy Fawkes night - but what exactly is it?

Also known as Bonfire Night and Fireworks Night, the celebration which takes place on November 5th each year sees the dark evening sky accross the UK light up with colourful explosions and fiery bonfires. It originally all began as a celebration of the failure of The Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

What happened at The Gunpowder Plot?

The Gunpowder Plot was a plan coined by a group of catholic conspirators to assassinate protestant King James I of England, with the aim of restoring the Catholic monarchy. King James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots and also ruled as King James VI of Scotland. It was in 1603, after the death of Queen Elizabeth, that he became the king of both countries. This led to the formation of Great Britain.

On the 5th of November 1605,  conspirators hid gunpowder in the cellar of the Palace of Westminister in London. The date was significant as it marked the state opening of parliament.

Their plan was to blow the entire building and those in it to smithereens, with their main target being King James. However, the plan was foiled by an anonymous tip sent to the authorities which led to a turn of events on the night of November 4th. 

Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators, got a big surprise as authorities had decided to investigate the tip and caught him red-handed in the palace's cellar, guarding a whopping total of thirty-six barrels of gunpowder with fuses in his pockets. As the first conspirator caught, Fawkes gained the most notoriety for the attempted crime, which is why the night is often named after him.

He was swiftly arrested, tortured, and later found guilty, alongside eight co-conspirators who were all convicted to be hung and quartered in January of 1606.

So, not a cheery state of affairs at all. Nonetheless, the plot being stifled became a commemorative event in the UK, which evolved into what we see today. While the night is now much more about having fun, some still choose to create a fake Guy Fawkes which they toss into their burning bonfires.

Guy Fawkes Night's Evolution

It seems that bonfire night has not finished evolving, however. In recent years people have started to take note of the environmental impact of fireworks and in some celebrations in Scotland, drone light displays are used instead.

We hope this short blog answered all of your questions on Guy Fawkes night. If you’d like to learn more about Scotland's history, why not join us on a five-star history walking tour? We hope to see you soon.

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