We all love an excuse for a good fireworks display, and Bonfire Night is the perfect reason to gaze at the night skies across London. The displays are made even more spectacular by the city’s skyline and on the night, you’ll see it lit up like never before.
Camera’s at the ready!
If you’re visiting the city during the month, plan ahead for the evening festivities and prepare for some of the most impressive displays of light, colour and sound, as well as lots of tempting, roaring fires and wintery treats to enjoy.
Wherever you are in London, you’re bound to find something special to enjoy, and for guests staying at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch Rooms, you have the added advantage of being within easy distance of some of the city’s finest displays – many just a short tube ride away!
And, with cosy luxury rooms in Shoreditch to head too after a fun night out, you can be extra smug in enjoying a warm night in after the evening’s events.
Most events take place over the weekend preceding the actual date of Bonfire Night, so it’s a good idea to check specific dates before planning. Read on to find out more about Bonfire Night, and where you can find the best displays in London.
The history of Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night is typically celebrated around November 5th, and while it’s generally a fun night out featuring fireworks, bonfires and plenty of delicious food and drink, it has its origins in something altogether a lot more sinister.
The clue’s in the name, as the event is also known as Guy Fawkes Night, in reference to one of the figures arrested as part of the Gunpowder Plot on 5th November 1605.
Guy Fawkes was one of a group of plotters who attempted to plant explosives beneath the House of Lords to assassinate King James I. To mark their defeat, and celebrate the fact that the King had dodged an attempt on his life, the date became a public day of thanksgiving, with bonfires lit around London and the country.
While there are still lots of bonfires to be found lit around the city on Bonfire Night, you’ll generally find more impressive alternative of a fireworks display instead. Most events are ticketed due to high volume of people attending, so if there is one that takes your fancy, make sure you book tickets online beforehand.
Taking place along the south bank of the River Thames, this is one of the best fireworks displays in the city centre on Bonfire Night, and is conveniently close to the M by Montcalm Shoreditch Rooms.
Just a short tube ride away, it’s a great place to experience the full revelry of the night – expect plenty of delicious food and drink from local traders, all kinds of entertainment, and of course, fantastically colourful displays lighting up the city skyline after dark.
Tickets do need to be booked ahead, though, as this does sell out quickly.
Ally Pally Fireworks Festival
Taking place on 1-2 November, the Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival is one of the most formidable events in London, with a host of different activities taking place over the weekend. The Festival features plenty of colourful and creative pyrotechnics, all set to the soundtrack of a live DJ.
But there is much more to enjoy beyond the fireworks, with a German Bier Festival, indoor ice rink, food and drink, live music, a fairground and finally, and an awe-inspiring bonfire ceremony complete with a 30-foot effigy set alight.
With plenty to enjoy, it’s an ideal family-friendly option, so it’s worth booking a weekend away together and choosing some luxury rooms in Shoreditch to keep your stay stress-free and comfortable.
Tower Hamlets Fireworks
If you’re staying at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch Rooms and would like the option of something a little more impromptu, the nearby Tower Hamlets fireworks display is one of the few free, open events in the city, where you can enjoy a great night out without worrying about having to book ahead in advance.
Each year, the event takes on a fun theme – last year’s was themed in honour of the publication of the first science-fiction novel, Frankenstein, 200 years ago. So expect fun-filled displays and a great soundtrack to bring the show to life.
The show typically starts around 7pm, but it’s worth heading up a little earlier to enjoy the atmosphere and delicious food and drink from the park stalls. Taking place in Victoria Park, it’s easy to get to by Tube and just a short ride away from nearby Liverpool Street Station.
Barnes Bonfire Night
Most of the city’s Bonfire Night themed events will take place before, or around the traditional date of 5th November, but if you can’t make those, you’re still in luck. Most likely, there will be plenty of fireworks fun carrying on for much of the month across the city, and the Barnes Bonfire Night is a great chance to experience a more traditional family night out. While it’s further out in West London, it can be a great way of experiencing a different side of the city.
There will be a “Best Guy” competition, judging the handicrafts of local people making effigies for the fire, as well as the official lighting of the bonfire, with plenty of pomp and ceremony. Afterwards, you can enjoy a splendid fireworks display, as well as plenty of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, popcorn and other tasty treats.
For something with a little more historical flavour, head a little further out to a genuine gunpowder factory, the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey. Taking place across the first weekend of November, you’ll be able to hear the full story behind the historic day, brought to life with live demonstrations of musket firings, lantern making workshops and more.
The day’s events are rounded off with an excellent fireworks display put together by a professional special effects team, so you can be sure you’ll get an impressive finale.
How will you celebrate Bonfire Night?