Lewes bonfire returns as organisers try to keep visitor numbers down

  • Watch the video report by ITV Meridian's Carolyn Sim

The Lewes bonfire has returned to Sussex tonight after it was cancelled last year, like many events, due to the pandemic.

There's great excitement at the return of the torch light processions and parades.

But despite the carnival atmosphere there's concern too, as organisers try to keep the numbers down.

Mick Symes from Lewes Borough Bonfire Society said preparing for what is the biggest event of its kind in the country, takes time.

Tonight, hundreds of people will gather round his society's bonfire to watch the burning of their effigy and the fireworks.

  • Mick Symes, Lewes Borough Bonfire Society:

Mick Symes said: "This year's effigy is Guy Fawkes. He is sitting on a barrel of 'vaccine', not gunpowder. I'm feeling incredibly excited. We missed it last year, we really did. It's back, we're back."

Around 60,000 people crowded into the town's narrow streets in 2019, the last time the event was held. This year the message is simple, if you're not local, please stay away.

Chief Superintendent Howard Hodges, Sussex Police said: "The infrastructure simply isn't here for the number of people we know have attended historically which is why we put in place a range of measures to limit the number of people who can come to the town to make sure the event is as safe as it possibly can be."

Members of Lewes Borough Bonfire Society are very excited for the return of the event Credit: ITV Meridian

There will be a lockdown of roads and the railway until early Saturday (06/11) morning, with no trains calling at Lewes, Glynde and Southease after 5pm, among other restrictions.

People attending are being asked to wear masks and take lateral flow tests before heading out, in order to try and avoid a spike in Covid cases.

Rob Tolfree, East Sussex County Council said: "This event provides a huge social value for the people of Lewes and events like this are allowed to take place but what we're wanting is for people to take some simple steps to protect themselves and protect others around them."

For Lewes' seven bonfire societies, it is a significant celebration steeped in tradition and one they hope the town will enjoy for many years to come.