Bonfire Night is celebrated in the UK on November 5th and is a uniquely British event, with just a few other Commonwealth countries also marking the occasion.
It commemorates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators came very close to blowing up the Houses of Parliament.
Common activities include lighting bonfires, setting off fireworks and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes, usually made of old clothes stuffed with newspapers.
Over the years, organised public events have grown in popularity, while back-garden bonfires and at-home firework displays have waned.
But with the Coronavirus lockdowns preventing full-scale celebrations in 2020 and many households still worried about the virus in 2021, there are good reasons to spend this November 5th within the perimeter of your own garden fence.
First, try to keep your bonfire off of the grass. Build it on a patch of bare earth such as an empty flowerbed, or in a container, especially if you have a purpose-made fire pit.
Water your lawn well so it’s still wet. In November it’s likely conditions will be damp anyway, but this should help the grass resist any risk of setting alight if sparks or embers land on it.
Launch fireworks from a container of sand. This helps to keep them stable until they fire, and can prevent harmful chemicals and leftover explosives from entering your lawn and subsoil.
If you do notice some lawn damage after the festivities, you can always follow our easy guide on reseeding your lawn.
If you’re having friends round to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in your garden, or you just want it to feel festive for yourself, there are some simple and safe ways to decorate.
Fairy lights are a good option. You can get outdoor garden lights that can wind around tree branches or along your fence, and will create an instant magical atmosphere – as well as giving you some light to see by.
Think about how you will stay warm if you’re outside late into the evening. Patio heaters and fire pits are good options, as well as hot food and plenty of hot drinks.
Have somewhere to sit at a safe distance from wherever you light your fireworks, and blankets for anyone who gets cold – and look out for anything flammable around the bonfire.
Finally, there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe in the garden on Bonfire Night:
• Keep your bonfire contained (e.g. in a fire pit)
• Light fireworks in a container at a safe distance from spectators
• Have adequate lighting and look out for wildlife or pets
• Keep flammable items like blankets well away from the fire
• Have a bucket of water ready in case of small fires
Last but not least, remember there are legal limits on when you’re allowed to set off fireworks, so your display should be over before 11pm unless it is actually on Friday November 5th, when the legal deadline is extended by one hour to midnight.