8 Of The Best Fireworks Displays In London
London will explode with colour on November 5 as fireworks burst across the night sky – and it’s all down to a man called Guy Fawkes. The British tradition of Bonfire Night dates back to 1605, when the Catholic conspirator attempted to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder.
He was caught red-handed but jumped from the scaffold, where he was to be hanged, then broke his neck and died, which meant he avoided being hanged, drawn and quartered. Oddly, his failed plot has been celebrated across the country on this day ever since.
Traditionally, children create Guy Fawkes’ effigies – models stuffed with newspaper like a scarecrow – then collect coins for their efforts. In the past, they could be heard requesting: ‘A penny for the guy?’ The effigy is then hurled on top of a bonfire as fireworks light up the night sky.
1: Alexandra Palace
This is more than just a fireworks display – it’s a full-on festival, set on a hill overlooking the capital – and more than 50,000 people are expected to attend. Go early to make the most of live bands, DJs from Club de Fromage, plus David Bowie and Queen tributes at the German Beer Festival, where Bavarian waitresses will be serving craft and German beers. Another highlight is a day of the dead parade – a carnival of snakes, skeletons and fire dancers jigging to the beat of the 20-piece Drum Machine band. If that whets your appetite, there will be 40 drink and street food stalls. There will be a huge bonfire and laser show, too, as well as fireworks. On the Friday, the gates open at 4pm ready for the display at 9pm, while on the Saturday gates open at 3pm ready for an 8pm start. Fri 4 Nov and Sat 5 Nov. Adult from £7; child from £5. Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. fireworks.london
2: Battersea Park
This annual display is set to music by legendary stars and is hosted by Christian Williams, a presenter for Virgin Radio UK. The gates open for food, drink and entertainment at 6pm and close at 8pm, 10 minutes before the display starts. Tickets must be pre-booked from the website. Sat 5 Nov. £10. Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. enablelc.org/fireworks
This beautiful open space atop a hill is the perfect location for a firework display. Go early and warm up over a traditional British meal at Blackheath Fish & Chips opposite the station, then stroll with the masses to the public viewing spots, which are south of Shooters Hill Road. Against the backdrop of the fireworks, you can see the majestic All Saints’ Church. A funfair begins at noon, a bar and food stalls open at 5pm, while the display starts at 8pm. While the event is free, donations are appreciated. Sat 5 Nov. Free. Blackheath Common, Prince Charles Rd, SE3 0RX. lewisham.gov.uk
4: Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park’s first firework display – a competition between British firework makers – took place on 12 July 1865, attracting 20,000 spectators. Regular shows were staged in the park until 1936. At this year’s event there will be a firework display, food and drink stalls and places where you can buy novelty glow sticks. Gates open at 6pm, there’s a children’s show at 7pm, last entry is at 8.15pm and the main display begins at 8.30pm. You must pre-book from the website. Sat 5 Nov. Adult £6.50; child £4.50, plus a booking fee. Thicket Rd, SE19 2GA. crystalpalacefireworks.co.uk
Morden has two displays: the first show, which is suitable for young children, starts at 6.45pm (bonfires lit at 6.30pm), while the second show starts at 8.30pm (bonfires lit at 8.15pm). A funfair and food and drink stalls are open until 10pm. The display will take place in the centre of the park, which can be accessed from entrances on London Road, Lower Morden Lane and Hillcross Avenue. You must pre-book from the website. Sat 5 Nov. Adult £8; child £6. Morden Park, London Rd, SM4 5QX. merton.gov.uk
6: Victoria Park
If past years are anything to go by, this firework display will have a bonfire, themed soundtrack, food and drink stalls and perhaps even a giant robot strolling the grounds. Be there for 7pm. Sun 6 Nov. 7pm-7.30pm. Free. Grove Rd, E3 5TB. towerhamletsarts.org.uk
After last year’s display was cancelled due to low-lying fog, this year’s display will no doubt be a show to remember – especially as it’s choreographed to music. Gates will open at 5.30pm, while the display will begin at 6.30pm. Sat 5 Nov. Free. Wanstead Flats, E11 3SE and Dames Rd, E7 0EB. newham.gov.uk
Gates open at 5.15pm as this park has two displays. The first, themed around magic, is suitable for young children and starts at 6.45pm. The second show, meanwhile, is themed on ‘all around the world’ and starts at 8.30pm (bonfires lit at 8.15pm). A funfair and food and drink stalls are open until 10pm. Thur 3 Nov. £10. Wimbledon Park, SW19 7HX (near the athletics track). merton.gov.uk
Note: at many of the events you cannot bring fireworks, sparklers, glass bottles and alcohol