Guy Fawkes Night 2019: London’s Best Bonfires
We don't like to boast, but London is known for hosting some of the most spectacular firework displays in the UK – so there's no better place in which to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night! Here's our mini-guide to this special time of year in the capital: from the history of the event to where to catch the best bonfires in town.
The History of Guy Fawkes Night: A 17th Century Engraving of the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators
Guy Fawkes Night: How it All Began
Aside from the sheer scale and choice of the capital's Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, there is an important historical reason for seeking out a bonfire in London at this time of year - after all, the event that inspired the annual tradition took place in Westminster.
Guy Fawkes Night - sometimes known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night - is an occasion on which we remember the 'Gunpowder Plot' (which is referenced in the famous rhyme 'Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason, and plot'). The aim of the plot, which was devised by a group of Catholic rebels, was to assassinate the then-monarch, King James I, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605. It was foiled when one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was discovered under the House of Lords guarding barrels of explosives. Over 400 years later, we commemorate this unusual moment in history by letting off fireworks and making bonfires (sometimes with a dummy called a 'Guy' on top) each November.
Though traditionally Guy Fawkes Night takes place on 5th November, themed events are held across the capital from 1st November onwards.
London's Best Bonfires: Alexandra Palace (1st - 2nd November)
No countdown of London's best bonfires would be complete without a mention of the Alexandra Palace event, which happens to be one of the capital's most famous fireworks displays.
Set against the backdrop of its gorgeous, historic palace, the Ally Pally event offers so much more than just a bonfire and fireworks. Over the weekend there will also be film screenings, vintage fun fair rides, the UK's largest German bier festival, and even live music from former Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and famed producer Jazzie B. The display itself – which is set to be spectacular – kicks off at 9 pm on Friday and 8 pm on Saturday. Doors open at 6 pm: get there early to bag the best viewing spot!
Photo Credit: EnableLC.Org/Nathan Dainty
Battersea Park (2nd November)
One of the hottest tickets in town, the Battersea Park Fireworks are always exceedingly popular – so be sure to book early! Catering for around 50,000 people, this atmospheric event includes plenty of food, drink and entertainment in the iconic surroundings of Battersea Park.
Gates open at 6 pm, with the fireworks kicking off at 8 pm. But that's not all: if you're still in the party spirit after the 22-minute display, you can pay an additional cost to attend the event's first-ever after party, which will take place at Battersea Evolution (which will feature performances from famous DJ Norman Jay MBE BRIT-award-wining band Rudimental).
Crystal Palace's Fireworks Spectacular (2nd November)
As if the giant sphinx and amazing dinosaur sculptures that live at Crystal Palace Park weren't enough of a draw, this year the annual fireworks event will also boast a live performance from Arcadia, the pyrotechnic wizards responsible for Glastonbury's iconic spider.
In addition to Arcadia's amazing 'Lord of Lightning' show, there will be a tasty array of street food to sample, DJs and live music, and – of course – a bonfire and fireworks display. Gates open at 5 pm and the display begins at 8.30 pm.
Photo credit: Aigars Mahinovs (via CC)
Victoria Park (3rd Nov)
Head to Victoria Park – sometimes known as 'The People's Park – for an evening of space-themed, bonfire-centric action on Sunday 3rd November.
There are two very special things about Victoria Park's 2019 event.
First of all, the event is themed around the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing - and, with music, soundscapes, storytelling and special effects by famous pyrotechnical theatre company Walk the Plank, and support from the producers of All Points East, it's set to be out of this world!
Second, it's one of the only displays in London that is entirely free: so you can enjoy fantastic fireworks, community vibes and the atmospheric surroundings of this lovely East London park without spending a penny (though there will be delicious refreshments and other attractions on offer, should you wish to partake). Doors open at 5.30 pm and the show starts at 7.30 pm.