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03/11/06
Fireworks Night Explodes into View
- Stand by for the oohs, the aahs and the history debate

Fireworks Night Explodes into ViewFIREWORKS will light up London this weekend as part of the commemorations for the 401st anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ doomed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

The 5th of November is the official of Fawkes' deed, but many fire-starters bend the rules and explode rockets, bangers and catherine wheels all over the weekend. In years gone by, most people held small-scale bonfire and firework parties in their back gardens, but these days huge, organised displays are the norm.

Each year the organisers, usually local councils, seem to go out of their way to out-do the previous year's attempt at drawing those familiar oohs and aahs from the audience, numbering close to 100,000 in some cases.

The role of fireworks has subsequently become more important compared to the ritual burning of an effigy of Guy Fawkes, often to the extent of leaving Guy himself out of the proceedings. For instance, this year, Tower Hamlets council's display in Victoria Park is to feature an extravagant display on the theme of the Emperor and Tiger.

The move away from Guy Fawkes' tradition has provoked some criticism, but that misses the point, at least to those under 400 years of age, that Bonfire Night has long been about watching the sky light up in multi-colour to the tune of a thousand bangs.

In any event, there is plenty of historical doubt about the actual case of Guy Fawkes, with some historians arguing the Catholic rebel was set-up by agents-provocateur of King James I, all the better to secure their master's waning popularity in the kind of security scare PR technique that has been handed down to governments in our own age.

Find out display show-times here



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