The Hague ablaze – the story of the world’s greatest bonfire rivalry

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There’s something entirely transfixing about a bonfire. It’s easy to catch your thoughts drifting off as you stare into the red and orange hues, only to be roused when a log finally gives in to the flames, restructuring the pile of burning debris; sparks piercing the empty sky above the blaze. Bonfires possess intriguing and conflicting qualities – in equal measures they’re terrifying and enthralling, dangerous and celebratory. Here, in England, we light them to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night every November, marking the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. In Southern Louisiana, USA, bonfires are lit on Christmas Eve along the levees of the Mississippi River to guide Papa Nöel. In Turkey, it’s May which sees the controlled fires cropping up across the country to honour Hidirellez Day, believed to be the first day of spring and the awakening of nature.

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