All you need to know about Lewes Bonfire 2023 - start times, road closures, train cancellations and will it be called-off due to Storm Ciarán?

Here’s all you need to know if you’re heading to the bonfire celebrations in Lewes tonight (Saturday, November 4).
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The highly-anticipated, world-famous event expects huge crowds, despite the poor weather.

When does it start and finish?

The Bonfire Night Celebration Processions will start at about 5pm and finish at about 1am.

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Here's all you need to know about tonight's Bonfire event in Lewes. Photo: Jon RigbyHere's all you need to know about tonight's Bonfire event in Lewes. Photo: Jon Rigby
Here's all you need to know about tonight's Bonfire event in Lewes. Photo: Jon Rigby

Most proceedings at bonfire sites will begin at about 9.45pm.

What happens at the event?

The night of celebrations sees six separate Lewes Bonfire Societies all celebrating Guy Fawkes night in various parts of the town and is one of the biggest Bonfire Night events in the country.

There will be more than 30 processions during the celebrations, intermingling with each other through the streets of Lewes as the societies show off their own traditions, costumes, firesites and fireworks.

Each society will have its own route, except the grand which is at about 9pm, when five of the societies will join up and march back through the town.

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The night is also well-known for the burning and destroying of models of current figures to ‘highlight a problem or a grievance that the common man has with the powers’. Last year saw effigies of Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Vladimir Putin.

Is the event still going ahead despite bad weather?

Multiple societies involved in the celebrations have confirmed that the event is still set to go ahead as planned.

However, one society has had to cancel access to its firesite due to flooding from Storm Ciarian.

A statement from the Cliff Bonfire Society reads: “Due to the current and ongoing weather situation and difficulties with the public area of our Firesite, Cliffe Bonfire Society have made the difficult decision to cancel ticket sales and access to the public to our Firesite on the 4th of November 2023.”

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The society has said that all tickets previously sold will be refunded.

All other celebrations will be accessible to the public and the Cliffe site will still be open to members.

How do I book tickets?

You will need to book tickets to the particular society whose bonfire you wish to visit.

These can be purchased in a number of independent businesses across Lewes or on the societies’ official websites.

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Which roads will be closed?

Road closures will be in place outside the town from 4pm, followed by further road closures inside the town at 4:45pm.

Diversions will be in place for traffic to travel outside of the town. Lewes residents are advised to get vehicles home before 4pm to avoid any road closures in place.

There will also be no trains calling at Lewes, Glynde, Southease, Falmer and Cooksbridge after 3pm today.

Can I travel to Lewes for the celebrations?

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The council has asked people not to travel to Lewes for the bonfire due to concerns over safety.

A statement from the council reads: “With this year’s event falling on a Saturday, there remains serious concern about overcrowding in the narrow streets of Lewes.

“Emergency services, local authorities and transport operators have been planning for the celebrations for many months. Their message is clear, please do not travel to Lewes Bonfire.”