Festival of (Bon)Fire(Works)

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

The 5th of November commemorates Guy Fawkes night when the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 planned by a man called Guy Fawkes to assassinate the king was foiled. Londoners were then encouraged to light bonfires in celebration of the king’s safety, “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder’”. (Always remember, fire safety first.. even in 1605!)

I am not an English history enthusiast but one aspect of this celebration which truly “ignite” the fireworks buff (or maybe the fire safety engineer) in me is that the tradition of lighting bonfires with the addition of fireworks(!) still continues. As Guy Fawkes night this year was on a Sunday, the skies of Edinburgh was littered with fireworks throughout the week leading up to 5th November with festivities starting even on 31st October when Halloween meets the Samhuinn Fire Festival!

The IMFSE crew gathered for a small Halloween dinner on 31st October at Silvia’s house. It was my first Halloween ever and when the kids rang the door for treats, I was so excited to be finally part of the tradition that I have only seen in television and movies. Making our way to the Royal Mile to witness the Samhuin Fire Festival, our very own Andrei and his wife Nastya made an appeareance on National (Lothian bus) TV.


They even got a legion of fan followings. Undoubtedly, the best dressed Halloween couple on the Royal Mile that day.

Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrates the Celtic New Year, marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter. The event showcased stunning torchlit performance along the Royal Mile with wild drumming, acrobatics, fire-dancing and intricate costumes as battles between the forces of summer and winter are recreated. Or so they say… so we were expecting amazing scenes like these… (pictures taken from Beltrane Fire Society).

However, due to our poor location, we had views like this instead…

But at least we had some backstage view on the crew working to extinguish the fires

IMFSE students should volunteer to do this next time 🙂

This would be the start of a fire-filled week leading up to Guy Fawkes night. For three nights in a row, the sound of fireworks blasting all around tempted me leave home in search of some firework action. The week ended with a little gathering of the IMFSE crew atop Carlton Hill where we could view fireworks blasting all around the city skyline in the company of the Edinburgh crowd. Here are some highlights of my nights out…

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A fire-wand war ending off with a bang!!! Caught on camera by Darko and Khai Chern.

We learnt in class about the dangers of fire, how to control it and extinguish it. However, fire can also be a source of joy and celebration (and much needed heat especially now!). Our enemy is never fire itself. It’s how we design and build the things around us that separates when a fire is destructive or delightful.

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Good fire or bad fire?



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