It’s Bonfire Night: Gunpowder, Treason and Party!

This 5th of November marks the 405th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’s arrest for partaking in a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Men’s Life Today spoke to food, fireworks and fire safety experts so that you can blow your friends away - metaphorically, of course - with the hottest Bonfire Night of the year.

Dazzling Pyrotechnics
"Early preparation is a must," says Simon Page, the company director in charge of professional displays at Kimbolton Fireworks, one of the UK’s major firework suppliers.  "One of the most important things to do when planning a [private] fireworks display is to realistically assess the amount of space you have available." According to Page, there are two classes of outdoor fireworks available to the public. Category 2 (for smaller gardens) requires five metres between the audience and the display site;  Category 3 (for larger private displays) requires 25 metres.

Once you have your venue in order, you’ll have to think about the budget. Today’s fireworks are stunning, but that razzle dazzle comes with a price; anywhere from £300 for a decent smaller show up to £500 for a 12 to 15 minute display, says Page. So you might try dividing the cost among a small group of friends to make it more affordable.

These days, fireworks are available everywhere from garden centres to web-based businesses. But, as with most products, the quality can vary. "Look for outlets that sell fireworks all year round," suggests Page. "It’s a good indication they stock a well-made product and can offer valuable guidance." Before making any final decisions, though, Page recommends looking at product videos (such as those available on his company’s site: to get an idea of how various types of fireworks will perform

Mouth-watering Firework Fare
Okay, you’ve got the pyrotechnics sorted. Now it’s time to build the bonfire - well clear of buildings, fences and hedges - and to think about the food. Traditional Bonfire Night offerings consists of soup, jacket potatoes and reheated sausages. But why not turn up the creative juices and serve a more surprising menu to friends and family this year?

Tim Reeves, Managing Director of Blistering Ltd., one of the UK’s foremost al fresco catering companies, advises firing up a barbeque  "It’s an easy way to serve up hot, interesting food to people outdoors," he says, adding, "Since it’s the 5th of November you should offer your guests something that explodes with fiery flavour." Reeves recommends chargrilled lamb shawarma with sweet chilli yogurt dressing for the meat-eaters, and falafel burgers topped with harissa and minted yogurt for vegetarians. Another important tip: Keep it simple. According to Reeves, you don’t need more than three or four options to please a crowd.

Safety First

Bonfire Night is a centuries-old tradition and can be a lot of fun, but the sad truth is, people get hurt every year. Safety should never be compromised when gunpowder and bonfires are involved; it has to be the first consideration. Take another look at the safety tips we’ve given above. And to complete your preparations, Rob McTaggart, Senior Communications Officer at the London Fire Brigade, strongly recommends consulting the Firework and Bonfire Safety Codes available at If you need further advice, contact your local fire and community safety centre.