here’s something magical about crunching your way through leaves as dusk gathers and the smell of bonfires carries on the crisp air. And, seeing as we were deprived of Guy Fawkes festivities last year, you’re probably extra-excited about celebrating the near-miss of 1605 in 2021. Perhaps you’re in the market for a low-key evening of fireworks and hot chocolate in your local park. Similarly, if an evening of high-octane fire-themed partying appeals, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our guide to the best events going on in and around London this Bonfire Night.
Fireworks Festival at Alexandra Palace
Ally Pally is a perennial go-to for fireworks in London. The Grade II-listed venue looks magnificent lit up, and panoramic views of London really add to the experience. But that’s only the start: as well as a fireworks display which is widely considered the biggest and best in the country, Alexandra Palace hosts what is basically a full-on festival in its 196-acre park. Expect outdoor live music and DJs – including BBC DJ Trevor Nelson who will be pumping out soul, garage, and RnB – plus an ice rink, a designated family area, and plenty of street food. The Palace’s Great Hall will also play host to the UK’s largest German Bier Festival, complete with an oompah band and Spice Girls tribute act. A light show, funfair and fire jugglers will complete an evening of fiery fun.
6 November, visit alexandrapalace.com
Chiswick Park fireworks
If you’d rather stay south of the river, thank you very much, but wouldn’t mind letting loose this Bonfire Night, head to leafy Chiswick Park. The annual fireworks here are so much more than a pretty display – expect all the add-ons including live music, fire performers, and plenty of food and drinks stalls. Plus, for the seriously brave, there will be an opportunity to walk over hot coals in aid of the Hounslow Action for Youth charity. Taking place on 4 November, the event is free but tickets must be booked in advance.
4 November, visit enjoy-work.com
Lewes' bonfire celebrations: The Fifth
Okay, the East Sussex town of Lewes is definitely not in London, but its legendary Bonfire Night celebrations are well worth an hour train ride from Victoria. This unassuming market town takes Bonfire Night really seriously. Lewes doesn’t just commemorate the infamous Gunpowder Plot – it also remembers the 17 martyrs burnt to death by Mary I here in the 1500s. The result is the biggest November 5th event in the world – the population of 18,000 almost quadruples for a night as visitors pour in to witness torch-lit parades, fireworks displays and the burning of effigies. The Fifth is the combined work of seven bonfire societies (yes, apparently that’s a thing), most of which date back to the 19th Century. Each society has its own costume, so expect to see Civil War soldiers and Vikings wandering around. It promises to be a frankly surreal night.
5 November, visit lewesbonfirecelebrations.com
Kempton Park fireworks
Sunbury-on-Thames horse-racing track Kempton Park does a mean firework display. On the 6th, the park will be hosting a fun-filled evening of seasonal food and drinks, a funfair, and, of course, a spectacular show. If you don’t fancy the cold, or just want to spectate in style, you can upgrade to one of Kempton’s viewing boxes – the package includes admission, a spacious balcony offering stunning views of the fireworks, and a private bar.
6 November, visit thejockeyclub.co.uk/kempton
Bonfire Night in a Bathtub at The Zetter Hotel
The Zetter Hotel is offering one person the chance to win a rather unique firework viewing experience. The Clerkenwell boutique is giving away a weekend stay for two in one of its Rooftop Deluxe Suites, the terraces of which are furnished with open-air bathtubs. So, if you were so inclined, you could watch fireworks exploding around the city from the comfort of a rooftop bath filled with chocolate-infused bubbles and marshmallow soaps. The experience also includes a midshow snack from the hotel’s small plates menu, breakfast, and a round of cocktails. Enter by heading to The Zetter’s website (where you can also book a room for the ultimate Guy Fawkes experience).
5-6 November, visit thezetter.com/zetter-hotel
Spectate from a skyscraper
Sure, it’s nice to be in amongst it, wrapped in layers and clutching a warm drink... but, at the same time, we could probably do without the mud and the Portaloo queues. To watch fireworks in true style, book a high-rise bar or restaurant, order a glass of wine, and enjoy the twinking views. Great aerial establishments include Galvin at Windows, which yields stunning panoramas of London from the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel. Paramount at City Point and Vertigo 42 which also provide fantastic vantage points for luminous displays, and don't forget the classics: Aqua Shard and Oblix at the summit of the Southwark behemoth, The City’s Sky Garden, and the inimitable Duck and Waffle, London’s highest 24-hour restaurant.