‘Remember, remember the Fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.’
There are not many nations who use failure as a cause for celebration, but that’s exactly what the Brits do with our annual Bonfire Night festivities.
Bonfire Night dates back to the seventeenth century when an Englishman called Guy Fawkes instigated the Gunpowder Plot – a plan to blow up King James I and his Protestant government in the Houses of Parliament. The date was 5 November 1605, and so it is this evening every year when Brits gather to celebrate Guy’s failure. As dusk falls people across Britain light huge bonfires, set off fireworks and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes whilst burning and twirling handheld sparklers.
It’s a wonderful time to visit the city and witness the spectacle of fireworks and huge bonfires. Book yourself into a cosy room early to make the most of London hotels deals this autumn, and check out the options nearest to your accommodation in Paddington London to catch a display.
A short history of the Bonfire Night
Before you check into your room at the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel, brush up on the key facts behind Bonfire Night!
- Bonfire Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night or sometimes Fireworks Night. It is celebrated exclusively in the UK.
- Guy Fawkes was born on April 13, 1570 in York, northern England. Raised as a staunch Catholic, he opposed the Protestant leadership. In blowing up the king and government, Guy hoped that Catholic rule would be restored following his attack.
- Guy’s plot was discovered and thwarted by Sir Thomas Knyvet, who found Guy lingering in a cellar within Parliament. The police arrested Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. All were subsequently executed, and the UK has celebrated the foiling of the plan ever since.
- Guy was sentenced to death by being hung, drawn and quartered. However, as he climbed to the hanging platform, he jumped from the ladder. His neck broke, causing instant death.
Where to celebrate Bonfire Night in London
In addition to the fire displays and theatricals, Bonfire Night is an occasion to graze on cosy street food so it really does give you a reason to snap up one of the autumnal London hotels deals! Typical food items include grilled sausages, and sweet treats are plentiful. Sink your teeth into toffee apples, toasted marshmallows, treacle toffee and Parkin cake – sticky pudding consisting of a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup. Wash it all down with a hot chocolate or mulled wine as you ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the fireworks and hope the rain stays away.
Firework displays take place across the capital, so you can decide how far from your accommodation in Paddington London you are prepared to travel. There are usually small demonstrations on the 5th itself, but usually, it is the weekend closest to the 5th that you will find the larger-scale public celebrations which include funfair amusements and live music too.
Here are our top recommendations, don’t forget to wrap up warm.
Alexandra Palace, 1 – 2 November, £9.50 (£8.50 children 11-15)
The Ally Palace spectacle is so epic that they put it on not once, but twice – so there’s no excuse to miss it! This year’s music is curated by former Radio 1 DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank and is accompanied by a pagan fire-lighting ritual, funfair, comedy, cabaret and a German beer festival.
Blackheath Fireworks, 2 November, Free
This huge annual display attracts 100,000 guests per year and, incredibly, remains free to attend. The funfair opens at midday, food and drink stalls from 5pm and the fireworks display is 8pm. Arrive early if you can, to beat the crowds and make a full day of the celebrations.
Battersea Park Fireworks, 2 November, £11 (free for under-10s)
Organised by Wandsworth Council, Battersea Park Fireworks attracts 50,000 spectators each year. This year the fireworks show is in the hands of award-winning pyro-technicians Jubilee Fireworks and will keep guests entertained for 22 minutes (scheduled for 8pm).
For an additional £11, those over 18 can purchase a ticket to the Afterparty at Battersea Evolution where live music, food and drink will be available until 1am.
Bishops Park Fireworks, 2 November, £8 (free for under-5s)
The Bishops Park Park fireworks event in Fulham is one of the most family-friendly with a special children’s fireworks display scheduled for 7.15pm before the main event at 8pm which is choreographed to music. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the funfair, and treat yourself to plenty of food at the stalls which will satisfy the whole family.
Ravenscourt Park Fireworks, 3 November, £8 (free for under-5s)
Celebrated on the Sunday, the Ravenscourt Park firework display is the sister event to yesterday’s Bishops Park Park show. Expect the same family-friendly scenario as above, with the children’s display at 7.15pm and the main event at 8pm.
Cleveland Square, date TBC
Usually a private garden only for residents, 2018 was the inaugural Bonfire Night celebration in this small square in Paddington seeing a public bonfire, fireworks display, light show and barbecue. Watch this space to see if they will be hosting a second event this year. A simple five minutes’ walk from the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel this will be your closest option.
Richmond Athletics Ground Fireworks, 3 November, £9 (£6 for under-16s)
Richmond Athletic Association host this huge family-friendly event each year, with a funfair and plenty of food and drink stalls. Gates open at 4.30pm, and fireworks will be launched at 7pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Wembley Park’s ‘Light Up the Night’, 10 November, Free
Light Up the Night combines Bonfire Night with Diwali, so expect plenty of delicious Indian food besides the classic British Bonfire Night snacks. Details for the 2019 event are yet to be announced, but last year’s festivities included a fire parade, live Bollywood Brass Band and hundreds of handmade lanterns lighting up the area.