September has come back around in full swing once again, which of course can only mean one thing here in the South East: procession season!

For people who are not local to the counties of Kent and Sussex, the annual tradition of Bonfire Societies coming together in various villages throughout the months of September, October and November to parade in the streets with fire while locals loyally line the sides of the roads to watch can be somewhat confusing, and with the flamboyant costumes ranging from devils to medieval queens to Grim Reapers, the whole process can seem unnerving at first glance to those unfamiliar.

To give those not local to Sussex (or perhaps some locals who aren't too sure themselves) some context and explanation into the origins of the highly anticipated torchlit processions, they date all the way back to the 1550’s, when workers in Sussex would go from door to door in their local villages to ask for food and alcohol. So as not to be recognised by potential bosses or landlords, they dressed up in costumes and painted their faces.

This tradition then merged with the event of a man named Mark Antony Lower being burned at the stake in Lewes along with ten others for practising anti-Catholicism. Bonfire societies were subsequently formed, carrying on the traditions of dressing up, to commemorate this event.

There are over 40 Bonfire Societies around Sussex that come together every year to march proudly through the streets. They are very close-knit, made up purely of locals; Dylan, 19, from Uckfield, was a member of the Uckfield Bonfire Society:

“The torchlit procession was really fun,” he said about his experience, “I loved being the centre of attention from hundreds of people, as well as the fact that I had fire in my hands, giving me a sense of power and responsibility.”

Along with the torchlit procession through the streets, in many villages like Uckfield and Mayfield there are even more sources of entertainment at the events, with fairground rides, hot food stalls and firework displays a common sight.

This year, Mayfield’s torchlit procession will be running on the Saturday 16th September, with fairground rides open as always on the 15th as well.

It really is fantastic fun for the whole family, and no matter how cold the Autumn air gets, you'll stay toasty watching the procession from the flames!