Remember, remember the 5th of November: gunpowder, treason and plot. The first recorded instance of fireworks in London was back in 1605. The British tradition of burning the Guy, and holding fireworks displays, originated in a plot by Guy Fawkes and a group of Catholics to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament. Since then, an effigy has been burned on ‘Guy Fawkes night’: November fifth.
Fireworks in London 2019
Now, the traditional bonfires are accompanied by firework displays, across the UK. And luckily, there are plenty of fireworks in London to choose from. Here are just a few of our favourites, from bonfires in south London, to events in the north of the capital. They run from free, large-scale community gatherings, to ticketed ‘festival’ extravaganzas. Please let me know if I’ve missed off your favourite London firework display.
Free fireworks in London
Victoria Park Fireworks, 3 November
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets hosts this popular free event, in East London’s Victoria Park. Known as the ‘People’s Park‘, the 86-hectare green space recently celebrated its 170th birthday. Victoria Park Fireworks are an annual fixture, with free admission, . This year’s theme is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with music tracks, soundscapes, spoken word storytelling and special effects created by Walk the Plank – a leading pyrotechnical and outdoor theatre company. You can keep up to date on the Tower Hamlets website.
Blackheath Fireworks, 2 November
This large display in the south London borough of Lewisham attracts thousands, and a well-publicised campaign has resulted in it being kept as a free event. Running costs are high, though, so the organisers ask for donations where possible. The display starts at 8pm, with a funfair from midday, and food and drink from 5pm.
Find out more about Blackheath Fireworks here. Admission is free.
Coram’s Fields Fireworks Night, 1 November
The central London 7-acre space in Bloomsbury hosts its annual extravaganza, with fairground rides, hot food and drink. The display begins at 6pm and although this is a free event, for the spectators who want to avoid crowds but still have a good view of the fireworks, premium viewing tickets are priced at £10 (plus booking fee). 100% of the proceeds go directly towards supporting the important work of the charity. You can read about Coram’s Fields Fireworks night here, and about the Coram’s Fields charity here.
Light up the Night at Wembley Park, 10 November
This spectacular free fireworks event is a day-long affair, celebrating Diwali and Bonfire Night with a carnival parade, live performances by drummers, fire-jugglers and more, lantern-making workshops, a street food market, and an after-party hosted by a Bhangra DJ. The fireworks show kicks off at 7pm. You can find out more about Light Up the Night at Wembley Park here.
London fireworks viewing areas: ticketed events
Wimbledon Park Fireworks, 5 November
As a contribution to the fight against climate change, the south London Borough of Merton are replacing their traditional bonfire with a new fireworks, fire and light show by Flame Oz and Halo. There are two firework displays at the west London park this year. A family display kicks off at 6.45pm, with a Greatest Showman theme. Then, from 8.30pm the adult action kicks in, with an ‘Outer Space’ moon landing themed display. Bonfire Night revellers can enjoy a funfair, drink and refreshments (toffee apples, anyone?).
Find out more about Wimbledon Fireworks here. There’s a discount for booking online in advance, with prices of £9.09 per adult, £7.49 per child, and free entry to under-fives. An online family ticket costs £32.10.
Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival, 1-2 November
This two-day event has something for everyone. The fireworks show will be curated to a special music soundtrack put together by Radio 1 and BBC6 Music presenter, Rob Da Bank, the person behind Bestival and Camp Bestival. There will be a mega-bonfire in the festival’s family area, with a 30-foot ‘Guy’ effigy designed by local artists and young people across Haringey. Families can also visit the ice rink, fairground, or a cabaret.
Plus live music, a taste of Bavaria at the UK’s largest German bier festival and some cult classic films with The Luna Cinema in a Victorian theatre. Phew.
Find out more about Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival here. Tickets are £12.50 for adults, £10 for children over ten, and £2.50 for children under ten. A ticket for a family of four is £34.50.
Battersea Park Fireworks, 2 November
Wandsworth Council’s Battersea Park Fireworks, set in south-west London’s 83-hectare space on the edge of the river Thames, has a capacity of 50,000 and is expected to sell out. The display will run for 22 minutes, overseen by award-winning pyrotechnics. This year, there’s an after party for fireworks ticket holders.
Find out more about Battersea Park Fireworks here. Standard tickets are £10+ a booking fee. Children under ten are admitted for free, but will need a ticket.
Crystal Palace Fireworks, 2 November
Crystal Palace Fireworks features a show by Arcadia’s Lords of Lightning, who throw bolts of electric lightning at each other to music, as well as a bonfire, a funfair and a street food market. Find out more about Crystal Palace Fireworks here.
Guy Fawkes Festival and Fireworks at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey, 2-3 November
What better place to experience a tradition stemming from a gunpowder plot, than a former gunpowder factory. The Royal Gunpowder Mills, on the banks of the River Lee in north-east London, hosts a weekend of activities. Family fun begins at 2pm on both days, with slime making, lantern making and a short theatre production, The Ghost of Guy Fawkes. Professor Nitrate explains the science of explosions. Then from 7pm, after an archery display from ‘The Royal Golden Eagle Medieval Archers’, a firework show begins under the direction of Force FX, who create movie special effects.
Read more about the Guy Fawkes Festival and Fireworks here. Tickets are £10.50 for adults, £9 for concessions and £8.50 for children under 16. Under 3s go free.
Lambeth Fireworks is taking a year off in 2019, but the organisers promise that the popular event will be back in 2020. You can read more at the Lambeth Fireworks website.
Where do you think is the best place to watch fireworks in London? Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
All pictures are from Pixabay.
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If you’re looking for a fun crafty activity for Bonfire Night, we made clay hedgehogs. Check out our post here.