Norwich gets fired up for bonfire night

Blazing bonfires, glittering rockets, sparklers and the smell of toffee apples in the autumn air – Bonfire Night is upon us. STACIA BRIGGS ensures Guy Fawkes' night celebrations go with a bang.

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot – the traditional celebration which marks the discovery of Guy Fawkes' plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 has its roots in much earlier celebrations which marked the beginning of the darkest months of the year.

The Celtic Samhain, or summer's end, festival saw great bonfires lit after the harvest was brought in, the animals housed for the winter and food stored ready for winter.

Get your family in the mood for the displays which will light up the sky this week by preparing some delicious bonfire night food, making some crafty firework projects and trying some sparkling activities.


Firework pictures

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Younger children will enjoy making firework pictures ahead of a visit to an organised event or family display in the garden. There are lots of different ways to create a firework picture. These are our favourites:

Take a piece of black card or paper and place a large blob of paint in the middle. Give your child a drinking straw and tell them to blow on the paint to create their own firework. You can sprinkle glitter over the wet paint.

On black card or paper, stick streamers of brightly-coloured tissue paper to create fireworks, particularly effective if you create a bonfire from yellow, red and orange tissue paper and use brown paper or pipe cleaners for the wood.

Take a piece of white card and colour all over it with patches of different, brightly-coloured wax crayon. Make sure the whole card is covered, and use as many colours as you can. Colour over the top with black wax crayon, making sure you cover the first layer of bright colours. Using a toothpick, or a wooden skewer (slightly sharpened) scrape away some of the black crayon in swirly shapes to reveal the colours below. Don't scrape too hard or you'll see white card!

A story stick

This is a lovely idea, especially if you're having a bonfire at home and can sit round the fire as it dies down as a family.

Story sticks help your children to create imaginative stories as part of a group. Simply find a sturdy stick and then let your children decorate it with coloured ribbons or thread, glitter, streamers, sequins and so on. Leave enough room at the end of the stick so that it can be held comfortably. As you sit watching the dying embers of the fire, pass the stick around the family – each time someone holds the stick, they have a turn to speak and can add a few sentences to a story before handing it to the next person.

A Guy

Once a common sight on street corners, let your children make their own Guy, which can then be burnt on the bonfire. Stuff old clothes with straw and secure with string. The head can be made from an old pillowcase with a face painted on.

Flying fireworks

Make your own fireworks that you can launch indoors or outdoors by covering toilet roll tubes in coloured crepe paper and then decorating with glitter. Make a cone for the rocket top (or don't if it is too complicated – it won't spoil the look of the firework) and then cut streamers out of different coloured crepe paper and attach to one end of the firework with tape. Add more glitter, allow to dry and then launch your firework into the air.

Swooping rocket

Cut out a rectangle and a triangle and stick them together to make a simple rocket. Decorate with sticky stars and glitter and tape on lengths of red, orange and yellow crepe paper to the bottom as flames. Tape the rocket to a short garden cane and then your rocket can swoop leaving a trail of fire.


Toffee apples


Eight Granny Smith apples

400g golden caster sugar

1 tsp vinegar

4 tbsp golden syrup

Remove waxy coating, if any, by placing apples in a large bowl and covering with boiling water. Remove after 30 seconds, dry thoroughly and twist off any stalks. Push a wooden skewer or stick into the stalk end of each apple.

Place the apples on a sheet of baking paper near the oven. Put the sugar and 100ml water into a pan and cook for five minutes on a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the vinegar and syrup. Either heat until a sugar thermometer reaches 140C or test the toffee by pouring a little into a bowl of cold water – it should instantly harden and, when removed, be brittle and easy to break.

Quickly dip and twist each apple in the hot toffee until covered, let the excess drip away and place on the baking paper to harden. Leave the toffee apples to cool before eating. Make up to two days in advance and store in a cool, dry place.

Roast chestnuts

If you're brave – or foolhardy – you can cook these in a bonfire, but an oven is easier – and safer! Chestnuts are available in supermarkets, farm shops and from the barrow in London Street . A paper bag of roasted chestnuts is a great hand-warmer on a cold night.

Heat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6 and prick each chestnut with a fork to prevent it bursting as it cooks. Place the chestnuts in an even layer in a roasting tin and bake until the skins open and the insides are tender – it will take about 30 minutes. You can also cook chestnuts in a microwave oven, but don't forget to pierce them! A dozen chestnuts will cook in about two minutes.

Edible sparklers

This is a great, no-cook recipe which younger children will love. You need a packet of chocolate finger biscuits and a tub of hundreds and thousands. Quickly dip the ends of the chocolate fingers into warm – but not too hot – water and then into a bowl of hundreds and thousands to make your own edible sparklers. You can also use edible glitter.

Mulled apple juice

Combine a litre of apple juice, two tablespoons of clear honey, six cloves and two cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and heat gently for about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Strain the mulled juice and return to the pan, adding slices of one apple to the pan five minutes before serving.

Bonfire night relish

Ideal for hamburgers, hot dogs or to top baked potatoes, this relish is packed with warming ingredients for a cold night.

Fry one chopped onion and 50g of mushrooms for a few minutes. Then add a peeled, cored and grated apple, 300ml water, five tablespoons of tomato ketchup, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of Colman's Mustard. Cook on a medium heat until combined – you can blitz it in a blender if you prefer a smoother sauce.