Where to see a traditional Sussex bonfire from Brighton

Where to see a traditional Sussex bonfire from Brighton

If you are coming to Brighton or anywhere else in Sussex this November, you won’t be able to miss the bonfire nights.

Unlike other areas of the country, in East Sussex bonfire night is taken very seriously. Many of the towns and villages in the area have their own bonfire societies and fundraising events take place all year to pay for a superb display.

Torch lit processions are common during Sussex bonfires, with societies travelling to take part in their neighbours’ events. Because of this, in Sussex we don’t really have bonfire night, instead, we have a bonfire season, running from mid October to the end of November.

It is also common for bonfire societies to blow up an effigy at the end of the night. These tend to reference either current national affairs, or local issues. They are always spectacular, but sometimes societies take things to the next level, like this talking Trump from Robertsbridge 2016.

If you are staying in Brighton during November, you should try and get out to at least one traditional Sussex bonfire.

Lewes bonfire

The epicentre of Sussex bonfires is Lewes. If you don’t like crowds and loud noises, then this is not the place for you. Lewes is always on the 5th November, unless the 5th falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, when it happens on Saturday 4th November instead.

Tens of thousands of people descend on Lewes each year, as 6 separate bonfire processions and events take place through the small (and usually peaceful town.) If you want to go, you have to be prepared to go early. Trains and buses stop running to Lewes very early, there are road closures and parking is nearly impossible. There is a bike train from Brighton, which is by far the best and easiest way to get there.

Lewes does not only commemorate the 5th, but also remembers 17 martyrs that were burned at the stake in Lewes between 1555 and 1557. 17 burning crosses are paraded through the town and are one of the most striking symbols of the night.


Within easy reach of Brighton, lies the village Firle. This year they are holding their bonfire event on 28th October. Firle is more of a family friendly option than Lewes and is easier to drive to. You should expect incredible fireworks and a procession.


If you don’t fancy Lewes, but still want to see a large display on 4th November, then within an hour of Brighton you can reach the historic town of Battle. 10 minutes north of Hastings, Battle is home to the 1066 battlefield. Hence the name.

Battle bonfire is still much larger than most events outside of Sussex and it can get very crowded and loud, so is not suitable for young children or anyone who is likely to panic in crowded situations. However, Battle is easier to drive or get the train to than Lewes and doesn’t have the crazy numbers of people that Lewes does.


Seaford are holding their bonfire on 21st October 2017. Seaford can be reached easily from Brighton.

East Hoathly

Later in the bonfire season, on 11th November, East Hoathly are holding their event. This village can be reached within around half an hour from Brighton, if you have a car. Again, you will get to experience a very traditional event, with spectacular fireworks.

 Image credit: James Enderby, Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire Society


Posted 16th Oct 2017

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