Lewes Bonfire 2019 – here’s all you need to know

More than 30 processions, flaming barrels, standout tableaux and fireworks – the world-famous spectacle of Lewes Bonfire will return tonight (Tuesday, November 5).

Commercial Square, Cliffe, Lewes Borough, South Street, Southover and Waterloo bonfire societies will hold celebrations lasting around seven hours to mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-180611-104703008

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-180611-104703008

It 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.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend despite transport restrictions put in place and advice that it is considered and ‘event for locals’.

The annual event always takes place on November 5 unless it falls on a Sunday, when it is held on November 4. Each society has it own programme of events, procession routes and fire sites with ticketed entry – between them there are traditionally more than 30 processions. Events will start from 5pm and run until midnight, or longer. Grand processions tend to start from 8pm, with some not until around 9.30pm.

For many spectators, the highlight is finding out the identity of the societies’ tableaux. 2018 saw sculptures of then prime minister Theresa May and Boris Johnson feature in the torchlit processions and later went up in smoke.

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-180611-104047008

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-180611-104047008

Advice from the services and authorities:

There is no single organiser of Lewes Bonfire. The societies are responsible for their fire sites and processions, while the overall event safety is the concern of the 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, asks that the public ‘stay local’ to bonfire celebrations near them.

In June the group announced the details of the Lewes Bonfire operation to keep it as ‘safe and trouble-free as possible’.

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-191029-150718001

Last year's Lewes Bonfire. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ SUS-191029-150718001

In a statement last Monday (October 28) the multi agency group issued a reminder that there will be changes to train services and road closures, reiterating that measures ‘are being brought in to help the event pass safely’ and that there ‘remain serious concerns about overcrowding’.

In it, superintendent Howard Hodges said: “Public safety is our priority, and that’s why we are urging everyone to stay local this bonfire night.

“Whilst recognising the tradition of Lewes Bonfire night, it is important the event held – and those attending – are kept safe.

“In order to achieve this, a wide range of partners have worked with the bonfire societies to put practical measures in place. This includes road and rail restrictions, which are designed to reduce the number of people coming to Lewes in order to avoid overcrowding.

“We appreciate there will be some disruption on the night as a result, however this has been done in the best interests of public safety. We have also publicised these measures months in advance to ensure people can plan ahead for this one night of the year.

“There are a number of events taking place around Sussex and we’re urging everyone to attend an event near them.”

Road closures:

Road closures will be in place around the town centre from 4.45pm today (Tuesday, November 5) 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)

Residents are advised to have vehicles home before 4.30pm to avoid any closures in place and that those visiting do not drive.

Parking restrictions will be imposed from midday and on-street parking will be suspended on certain routes in the town. Vehicles must be removed from the roads or could be towed.

Roads in Lewes will re-open at 2am or once it is deemed safe to do so.

Rail travel:

No trains will call at:

– Lewes, Glynde and Southease after 5pm in line with the Lewes Road closure order.

– Cooksbridge after the 4.16pm from London Victoria to Eastbourne has stopped there at 5.20pm

– Falmer after the departure of the 6.31pm Brighton to Hastings service at 6.40pm

No trains will call at the above stations until the first timetabled trains tomorrow morning (Wednesday, November 6).

For more articles on Lewes Bonfire 2019 see:

Looking back last year’s Lewes Bonfire

Looking back at Lewes Bonfire ten years ago

Lewes Bonfire 2019 – visitors told to stay away

Lewes Bonfire Night 2019: Road closures and rail restrictions revealed