More than 30 processions, standout tableaux, flaming torches, banners and barrels – the annual spectacle of Lewes Bonfire will return tonight (Monday, November 5).
The world-famous event is always held on November 5 unless it falls on a Sunday – such as last year – then it is held on November 4.
Commercial Square, Cliffe, Lewes Borough, South Street, Southover and Waterloo bonfire societies will mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot with celebrations lasting around seven hours.
The event also remembers the 17 Lewes protestant martyrs that were burnt at the stake in the 16th century and those that died in the First and Second World War.
Thousands of people are expected to attend despite transport restrictions.
Last year, even though trains did not stop at Lewes or neighbouring stations from midday and with armed police on the streets due to the increased terror threat it was estimated that some 60,000 people attended.
For many, the highlight is finding out the identity of the societies' tableaux. Last year, it was sculptures of prime minister Theresa May, US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that featured in the torchlit processions.
Advice from the services and authorities
Lewes Bonfire societies are responsible for their fire sites and processions while the overall event safety is the concern of emergency services and local authorities working together as a ‘multi agency group’.
The group, made up of British Transport Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service, Sussex Police, East Sussex Highways, East Sussex County Council, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Lewes District Council and Southern Rail, is asking that the event is ‘considered as an event for locals – rather than large numbers of people travelling to the town’.
In July it announced that a series of travel restrictions would be put in place due to safety concerns.
In its latest statement on Tuesday, October 30, it said that final preparations were being made with ‘public safety being put first’ and that 'there remain serious concerns about overcrowding in the narrow streets of Lewes and people are being asked not to travel to the event'.
In the statement, superintendent Howard Hodges of Sussex Police said: “Whilst recognising the importance of seasonal festivities including Lewes Bonfire it is important that both the events held and that those attending them are safe. In order to achieve this a wide range of partners have worked with the bonfire societies to put in place practical measures to achieve this.
“Whilst it is accepted that there will be some disruption on the night as a result this has been done for the sole purpose of reducing the numbers of people coming to Lewes in order to avoid overcrowding and to keep people safe. “I would encourage people to attend their local events and to ensure that they look after themselves and plan ahead in relation to how you will safely get to and from these events.”
Road closures and transport restrictions
Between the societies there will be more than 30 processions tonight. Events will start from around 5pm and run until midnight, or later. Grand processions will start from 8pm, with many around 9.30pm. Each society has its own fire site with fireworks with ticketed entry. Tickets to Cliffe's fire site can not be purchased on the night.
Trains will not call at Lewes, Falmer, Glynde or Southease from 5pm tonight (November 5) until the first scheduled trains tomorrow morning (Tuesday, November 6).
The last train to stop at Cooksbridge will be the 4.16pm from London Victoria, which will arrive at 5.20pm, before continuing non-stop to Polegate. Cooksbridge station will then be closed until the first trains on Tuesday.
Road closures will be in place across the town from 4.45pm today (November 5), with diversions in place for traffic to travel outside the town, until 2am tomorrow morning (November 6), or until it is deemed safe.
Residents are advised to have vehicles home before 4.30pm to avoid any road closures and that those visiting do not bring vehicles.
Road closures are as follows: A27 junction with A277 Brighton Road (Ashcombe Roundabout); A27 junction with A26 (Southerham Roundabout); A26 junction with B2192 Ringmer Road (Earwig Corner); C7 Kingston Road junction with C324 Wellgreen Lane; A275 Offham Rd junction with B2116 Plumpton Road; A27 junction with Southerham Lane (Cliffe Industrial Estate).
Parking restrictions are set to begin from midday. On certain streets on-street parking will be suspended and vehicles could be towed if they are not moved.
Due to road closures from 4.45pm today (November 5) to 2am tomorrow (November 6) bus services will also be affected.
Brighton & Hove Buses says services 28, 29, 29B, and 29X will be diverted during the period. It states online that eastbound services will not be able to serve Lewes Prison, High Street, Waitrose, Phoenix Causeway, Tesco’s and Harwood’s Land Rover. Instead, buses will divert via the A27 and Cuilfail Tunnel, turn right and serve the first stop in Malling Hill (The Spinneys) and resume its usual route to Ringmer, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells. Westbound services will not be able to serve Harwoods Land Rover, Phoenix Causeway, Lewes Bus Station, High Street and Lewes Prison. Buses will use the A26 and passengers are advised they will need to use the stops in Malling Hill (The Spinneys) to go to Brighton. The buses will then run non-stop via the Cuilfail Tunnel (A26) and A27 to Kingston Ridge
For more details on the Lewes Bonfire, see here
To look back at pictures of last year's events, see here
To find out about events taking place across Sussex to mark Bonfire Night, see here