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Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom

Guy Fawkes Night is annually held on November 5. It is sometimes known as Bonfire Night and marks the anniversary of the discovery of a plot organized by Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. Many people light bonfires and set off fireworks.

Is Guy Fawkes Day a Public Holiday?

Guy Fawkes Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

A firework display to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night.
A firework display to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night.
©iStockphoto.com/Tim Starkey

What Do People Do?

Many people light bonfires and set off fireworks. As it is the end of autumn, it is the ideal opportunity to burn garden rubbish. Some light small bonfires in their own gardens, while other light larger ones in a communal space. In some towns and cities, the municipality organizes a bonfire and professional firework display in a park. These tend to be very popular. Due to its proximity to Halloween, many people organize a combined party for Guy Fawkes Night and Halloween. These parties often include elements from both festivals, such as a bonfire and dressing up in spooky outfits. Popular foods include toffee apples, bonfire toffee and potatoes baked in the ashes of the fire. Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, was arrested, tortured and executed for his part in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Hence many Catholics are more restrained in their celebration of this day. In addition, many injuries and even deaths occur as a result of fireworks being used incorrectly. For this reason, many safety campaigners call for the sale of fireworks to the public to be restricted even more than at present and for more professional displays to be organized.

Public Life

Guy Fawkes' Day is not a public holiday. Businesses, organizations and schools are open as usual. Public transport services run to their normal timetables. Some organizations, communities and municipalities may organize public bonfires or displays of fireworks on or around November 5.

Background and symbols

Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the foiling of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on November 5, 1605. The attack was planned by a group of Catholic conspirators, which included Guy Fawkes. The explosives would have been set off when King James I of England (King James VI of Scotland) and many parliamentary members were in the building. The conspirators were later arrested, tortured and executed.

Guy Fawkes Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2011SatNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2012MonNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2013TueNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2014WedNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2015ThuNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2016SatNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2017SunNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2018MonNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2019TueNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 
2020ThuNov 5Guy Fawkes DayObservance 

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