Remember remember the 5 November with our pick of this year’s best firework displays across the UK.
Though Bonfire Night seems less and less about Guy Fawkes, and ever more focused on fireworks, making bonfires, and drinking mulled wine, its historical origins are nothing short of fascinating. Catholic dissident Fawkes spent months with his 12 co-conspirators planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605. But they were caught red-handed, allegedly lighting their 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar below the House of Lords, and their assassination attempt was foiled. Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration of the plot having failed, and a few months later Parliament declared 5 November a public day of thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes and his surviving co-conspirators were all found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death in January 1606 via the gruesome means of hanging, drawing, and quartering. Though originally anti-Catholic in tone, Guy Fawkes Day, aka Bonfire Night, has since morphed into something somewhat merrier, becoming a highlight on any Londoner’s festive calendar.
Saturday 5 November 2016, Blackheath, FREE, 8pm
In the historic setting of south London’s Blackheath – the site of Wat Tyler’s Rebellion of 1381 – this display is both vast and epic, and one of the few remaining free fireworks events in London (though donations towards the council’s running costs are welcomed). Join the throngs of around 100,000 as they descend upon the scenic spot for a generous display, and try to get there earlyish for a display commencing at 8pm and to enjoy the accompanying funfair and food and drink stalls.
Saturday, 5 November 2016, at 5.30 to 9pm, at Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds, £4-£5
For an authentic countryside Bonfire Night experience, Bury St Edmunds’ annual ‘Charity Fireworks Spectacular & Funfair’ is a thoroughly charming and jolly affair. Taking place in the picturesque Abbey Gardens, the event is as atmospheric as they come, with friendly staff, plenty of entertainment and a real community feel. Efficiently organised by Bury St Edmunds Round Table, the Fireworks Spectacular is the main source of the charity’s income, which is then distributed to local good causes.
Saturday 5 November 2016, Glasgow Green, FREE, 7.30pm (funfair from 5pm)
Tuck into a toffee apple at the biggest fireworks display in the city, held in its oldest park. The whole event begins in the late afternoon with food and drink stalls, a funfair and live entertainment, and carries on into the darkness with a brilliant fireworks extravaganza.
Saturday 5 November 2016, Midsummer Common, Cambridge, FREE, 7.30pm (until 9pm)
The charming Midsummer Common in the heart of the beautiful city of Cambridge hosts an annual fireworks display for over 25,000 people and this year promises to be just as mesmerising as the last – expect fantastic pyrotechnics, a mighty bonfire, fire dancers, a funfair and more.
Saturday 12 November 2016, riverside between Waterloo & Blackfriars, FREE, 5.15pm
As the grand finale to a day’’s worth of extravagant celebrations, the fireworks display at The Lord Mayor’s Show is a pyrotechnical marvel. The civic pageant is steeped in history, having continued in the capital for 799 years, despite interruptions from the Black Death and the Blitz. And an app will be available to download this year to help explain the historical context; it all began with King John’s futile attempts to win London’s support by allowing it to choose its own Mayor. The caveat being that immediately after election the Mayor must leave the safety of the City of London, travel upriver to distant Westminster and swear loyalty to the Crown. Rather than unwavering allegiance to the King, instead this resulted in a rather inconvenient journey that has now become one of London’s most cherished rituals. This year the festivities begin with an early river pageant followed by the magnificent Lord Mayor’s procession, kicking off at 11am.
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