An atmospheric tradition that lights up the skies of the UK, firework displays mark the anniversary of the foiled gunpowder plot of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his motley crew tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I.
We’ve picked our favourite ten places to watch the drama in London. Take a pocketful of treacle toffee, put on a wooly scarf, and prepare to ooooooh.
North of the river
This iconic north London venue with incredible views across London has been putting on a show for over 150 years. This year it spans two days – 2nd and 3rd November – and is more like an annual mini festival. Get into the spirit at the German beer festival, or have a pre-show skate on the ice rink. Then enjoy the funfair, epic laser show and grand fireworks display.
Held in Hackney’s Victoria Park, this event is free. This year the main display has a ‘monstrous’ theme to mark the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Frankenstein. Bolts through the neck are such a bold look!
The Royal Docks and Millennium Mills provide the backdrop to Newham’s firework display. This year, the borough has gone full electro-futurist, with the sparks choreographed to a soundtrack by of As One by electronic musician and composer Jean Michel Jarre with samples from Come Together by Primal Scream. It’s a full-on night; as well as funfairs and Heart FM DJs, expect fire-laced contemporary circus and street theatre with stilt walkers and light-up puppets from Cirque Bijou.
Held at the families-only park in Camden on Friday November 2, this is a smaller, quieter display, but still spectacular enough to wow older kids and teenagers. This year, it’s presented by Kimbolton Fireworks, the team behind the 2012 London Olympic Fireworks display. Arrive early to ride fairground attractions and get to the front. Free, but premium viewing tickets available – all funds raised go to supporting the Coram’s Field children and young people’s charity.
Wembley Park hosts its first ever festival on Sunday 4th November. The event is a celebration of both Bonfire Night and Diwali, and will feature fireworks, a light parade, and a range of different music acts – including a performance from Bollywood Brass Band. Don’t miss the sparkling parade lit by fire torches, and starring illuminated butterflies, drummers, neon dancers and a mechanical elephant. Free.
South of the River
Southwark Park fireworks display is one of few events to take place on the day itself - Monday 5. It’s free but ticketed. Set along the south bank of the river Thames, it’s a real kick to watch fireworks at a place where Guy Fawkes and his gang might have roamed. And its free. This is the borough’s fifteenth pyrotechnic extravaganza.
With an accent firmly on fun, Lambeth Fireworks have two displays. The first, tailored to kids, is choreographed to the soundtracks of The Greatest Showman, Moana, Sing, Frozen and Trolls (sorry). Stay on for the Time Tunnel display, courtesy of Heart FM and synchronised to greatest hits from the 1980s to the present day. Bonus points for embarrassing your children by dancing along. Saturday 3rd November.
Crystal Palace Park’s display attracts up to 20,000 people, and takes place on the day itself – Monday 5. Younger kids might prefer the earlier event at 7pm with fewer bangs and more colours, with the main event to follow at 8.30pm. The best bit? All proceeds go to St Christopher’s Charity.
Blackheath Fireworks Display is one of the largest free London displays in the city, held on the huge, flat common. It hosts more than 80,000 people and features a funfair, food and drink stalls. Celebrations spill out into Blackheath Village – why not stay on and party into the night? Saturday 3rd November.
One of the prettiest London parks, Battersea hosts a display by award-winning pyro-techs, Jubilee Fireworks. Why not take the opportunity afterwards to explore the new bars and restaurants of Circus West Village at Battersea Power Station? Saturday 3rd November.