best bonfire night

Bigger, brighter, hotter: Britain’s best Bonfire Night displays 2014

In Family, Travel Inspiration by Kai

Bonfire Night in Stirling
Image: Flickr

409 years ago, a man tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament by placing a large amount of gunpowder beneath it. Spoiler: he failed. Still, Mr Fawkes’ glorious failure did have an upside to it…

Thanks to him, every November we get to light stuff, burn stuff and blow stuff up. Huge bonfires that tower precariously; soaring fireworks that flash and fizz; sparklers that sparkle and wooden pallets that burn.

His legacy doesn’t just end there. Thanks to Guy Fawkes, we’re annually forced to ponder such matters as:

bonfire night sparkler

Sparklers are great fun on bonfire night

Is it wrong to put an effigy on top of my bonfire?”

“Will I make it through November without someone telling me Guy Fawkes was the last person to enter Parliament with honest intentions?”

And: “How can I avoid spending a fortune on fireworks without my kids thinking I’m a cheapskate?”

We can’t answer the first two questions, but as for the latter, we’ve got just the solution. We’ve trawled the nation’s parks to bring you the best Bonfire Night displays of 2014. Pick the closest one, wrap up warm and take the kids. Once the flames start licking, you’ll be off the hook and free to enjoy Guy Fawkes night without having to wear flame-retardent gloves and a pained expression.

Why break a sweat on 5th November when you can let someone else do the hard work? If Guy Fawkes had been a little smarter, he’d have surely done the same. Delegate, don’t detonate.

Billowing smoke and boom-boom-pow in Sussex

5th November, when everyone becomes a pyro

While November 5th is the traditional night for erecting structure fires and sword fighting with sparklers, events can begin up to a week in advance. Good news for budding pyros, who can savour consecutive nights of flaming fun.

Heyshott’s Bonfire Night is being held on Saturday 1st November 2014, with a 7pm procession followed by a fireworks display. A Punch and Judy show and a raffle are all part of the traditional event, which has been running for 60 years.

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Gunpowder and treason in London

If it had been up to Guy Fawkes, Parliament would have looked like this a long time ago

If any city’s got the right to celebrate Bonfire Night, it’s London, where Guy Fawkes attempted to host the original fireworks display in 1605. These days, you’ll struggle to find a bonfire sporting an effigy of the plotter because we supposedly live in more enlightened times. That’s OK though: why get tilted over political correctness when you can cast your eyes to the skies and take in a breathtaking display of fireworks over Alexandra Palace? The November 1st event is by no means the only display scheduled to blow in London, but Ally Pally’s might just be the biggest and best.

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Natural beauty and unnatural fire in the Scottish Highlands

Kessock Bridge Fireworks
Image: Flickr

There are all kinds of reasons to visit the Highland capital of Inverness, from the enchanting views across Kessock Bridge to the prospect of spotting dolphins surfacing in the Moray Firth. Head there on November 5th however and your view may be impeded by a large plume of smoke; the town’s Bught Park hosts one of the largest bonfires in the country. Fire twirlers and the skirl of the pipes will get things started before the bonfire is lit at 7:30, followed by the obligatory fireworks. Gather on the shores of the River Ness and prepare to fill a camera phone with blurry pics you’ll never glance at again.

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 Why let off damp squibs in the garden when you can watch someone else’s investment go up in smoke?  

Glowing embers and hot toddies in North and Central Scotland

Fireworks at Aberdeen Beach
Image: Flickr

When it comes to blowing things up, Scotland is a stickler for tradition. You wanna celebrate Bonfire Night? Then you shall do so on 5th November and not a moment before. Huge fireworks displays will be taking place on Glasgow Green, at Aberdeen Beach and Meadowbank in Edinburgh. Visit Scotland lists all the major Bonfire Night events. Whether you’re stationed on Calton Hill watching tracer fire explode over the capital, or huddled on Broad Hill as rockets illuminate Aberdeen Beach, the cold will eventually kick in. No amount of celestial splendour can mitigate the weather. In addition to the usual winter wear, try putting a couple of hand warmers in your kids’ pockets. They’ll thank you once the packs are activated and have begun dissipating their toasty goodness.

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A very warm welcome atop a large pyre in Yorkshire

Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot (1823) by Henry Perronet Briggs
Image: Henry Perronet Briggs

Guy Fawks was born in York, giving the town reason enough to celebrate 5th November with gusto. Yorkshire might have a soft spot for the gunpowder plotter, but it certainly doesn’t impact upon the county’s enthusiasm for building colossal bonfires. If you like your fireworks to move to the music (or is it the other way round?), York Maze hosts a huge event on 5th November, with fireworks and a bonfire so large you could probably see it from space.

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  Were Guy Fawkes alive today, he’d probably be strangely touched that so many gather to remember him faithfully each year  

Fizzing fireworks and exploding rockets in Hertfordshire

Instead of snapping dozens of fireworks photos you'll never look at again, this Bonfire Night focus your efforts on writing cool stuff with sparklers.

On November 1st, St Albans will resonate to the sound of munitions as its Fireworks Spectacular detonates in Verulamium Park. The annual event began 25 years ago with the goal of reducing firework accidents at home. Why let off damp squibs in the garden when you can watch someone else’s investment go up in smoke? The action starts at 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £5/£2 concessions.

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Bonfire Night on the beach in Devon

Shaldon Beach: pretty every day of the year and spectacular for one night of the year
Image: Flickr

While landlocked counties must content themselves with bangers and bonfires in the park, Devon gets to unleash the aerial ruckus from the beach. One of the region’s best family-friendly events, Shaldon Beach lights its bonfire at 6:30pm on 1st November, before the fireworks start popping off over The Point 45 minutes later. There’ll be stalls selling warming soup, burgers, sparklers and all the other essentials that epitomise the best elements of autumn. Were Guy Fawkes alive today (ignoring the major rewrite of history and science this would entail), he’d probably be strangely touched that so many gather to remember him faithfully each year – even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

Take an autumn break in Shaldon this November

Winter nights drawing in?

Get away and leave the cold behind

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KaiBigger, brighter, hotter: Britain’s best Bonfire Night displays 2014