Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night and Fireworks Night, is celebrated annually around 5 November.
The British tradition of Fireworks Night dates back to 1605, when Guy Fawkes was part of something called the Gunpowder Plot. It was a planned act of terrorism by the Catholics against the Protestant-controlled government.
The plan was to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill the King, and maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament. It was one of the most notorious acts of terrorism and in modern times the conspirators would be known as extremists.
The extremists took 36 barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar under the House of Lords.
Fortunately some of the plotters had second thoughts once they realised innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack. One of them sent an anonymous warning letter to the King, and the King’s forces managed to stop the attack. Guy Fawkes, one of the extremists, was in the cellar when the authorities stormed in and was caught and executed.
On the night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, 5 November, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. And ever since it has become the biggest annual night of fireworks and bonfires to ‘Remember, Remember, the 5th of November!
Guy Fawkes in Gaborone
Botswana celebrates Guy Fawkes night with the annual Fireworks Extravaganza show at the Gaborone Cricket Club.
They’ve been doing this for the past 15 years or so and it’s one of the most successful events at the club. The display is done by reputed, professional, world-renowned pyro technicians from South Africa who have won various awards for what they do.
For photos from past years, check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GCCFireworks/?ref=br_rs
This year it’s taking place tonight, 4 November. It’s billed as the ‘Biggest Blast in Town’ and having attended a few years in a row, I can wholeheartedly say that’s true. It is one of the best fireworks shows I’ve seen, but there are a few things to be aware of.
- Buy your tickets (P100) in advance to avoid the horrendously long queues at the gate! They’re available at all Choppies and Liquorama outlets in Gaborone.
- VIP Tickets are available from the Cricket Club bar.
- Kids under 6 are free.
- Kids aged 7-12 need a junior ticket (P50) but need to come in with an adult.
What to Bring
- Camping chairs, picnic rugs, floor sheets, etc are all encouraged.
- If you’ve got young children, bring a pushchair. You might struggle to push it through the sandy roads of the parking lot but it’ll be extremely helpful to carry your things!
- Food, drinks and cooler boxes are not allowed but I usually smuggle in baby-friendly food & healthy snacks.
- Toilet tissue and/or wipes and hand sanitiser. Sadly the port-a-loos are not the tidiest and can be downright disgusting at the end of the night.
Opening & Show Times
- Gates open at 3pm.
- The first round of fireworks will start at 8:30pm. In the past they’ve said 8:00 and started anywhere from 30-45 minutes late so maybe this year they’ll be on time?!
- There are two shows, separated with a 20 minute or so break. Don’t leave after the first one because the second is usually amazing!
- Be prepared for a slow exit. There’s no point in trying to rush out at the end of the show because there’s a good chance your car will be blocked in anyways.
Important Safety Tips
- It should be an obvious one, but don’t leave any valuables in your car and keep anything on you well protected. It’s a notorious event for pickpocketing.
- Buy some glow-in-the-dark necklaces or wristbands for your child so that you can see them in the dark. These are not just toys but safety items.
- Write your name and phone number on your children’s arms. If they get separated from you it’s important that you can be found.
- Keep an ear open for any announcements from the DJ. You might be able to help a lost child get returned to their family. And every year this happens; in 2014 there were 6+ lost kids.
- There have been burns in the past, so please watch for falling bits and respect the barriers to keep a good distance away.
Be A Responsible Pet Owner
Fireworks might be fun for humans, but they can be extremely scary for many animals.
If you live within earshot of the Gaborone Cricket Club or National Stadium then you might already know that the noise can be too much for them.
There are lots of simple things you can do to help your pets deal with the fireworks. It just takes a bit of preparation.
- Create hiding places around your home for your cats & dogs
- Keep your pets inside, close your windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks
- Put on some music or the tv to mask the sounds
For more details on how to keep your pets calm and safe during tonight’s show, watch this short video from the UK’s RSPCA.