London is the perfect place to celebrate Bonfire Night. As well as being the home to a wide range of magnificent firework shows across the city - and some pretty big bonfires - the city is also the location of the infamous Gunpowder Plot.
Bonfire Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night in the UK as it is the commemoration of the arrest of Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot. The aim of the Gunpowder Plot was to assassinate King James I in 1605, and replace him with a Catholic monarch. Guy Fawkes was found guarding a large pile of explosives which had been hidden below the House of Lords. After being discovered, Fawkes was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Although he didn’t come up with the plan to kill the King, as the only member to be caught red handed Fawkes’ name has since become synonymous with the assassination attempt.
Fawkes was tortured for days before confessing the names of any of his fellow conspirators, and injured so badly he could barely write his own name. Four members of the Gunpowder Plot, including Guy Fawkes, were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. After the execution of the members of the Gunpowder Plot, Londoners celebrated the Plot’s downfall with bonfires across the city, a tradition that continues to this day.
Despite the originally gruesome nature of the story of Guy Fawkes, over the years Bonfire Night has become associated with families and is popular with children in the UK. Many of the most popular firework shows around London are especially tailored to families. The Sunday showing of the Battersea Park fireworks show, for example, will start an hour earlier than the Saturday showing this year so that even young children can enjoy the fun. Fireworks events also often have more than just fireworks, with food stalls, live music and giant bonfires being common additions. Toffee apples, whether homemade or bought at a bonfire night fair, are a particularly popular option on Bonfire Night.
Where to watch the fireworks
Ally Pally’s firework show is back with a bang. Tickets are £13.50 for over 16s, £10.50 for 11-15 year olds and just £3.50 for kids under 11. Accessible Tickets are also on offer, which allow special entry to an accessible viewing area and disabled parking. Tickets to the fireworks show include entrance to the fire show, bonfire and family-friendly fairground. From 4-10.30pm Alexandra Palace is also hosting a beer festival, ticketed separately, with live music. The fireworks festival will have plenty of street food and drinks on offer surrounding the festivities.
Battersea Park is running its fireworks just after Bonfire Night this year, on 6 and 7 November. The Saturday night fireworks will be delivered by the same company that runs London’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, Titanium Pyrotechnics. Like Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park is also running a beer hall, mini funfair and live band. The park will also host an after party at Evolution London after the firework show. For visitors with families, on Sunday night the park is running a new event - Family Night. Sunday’s fireworks will be starting an hour earlier at 7pm, and be accompanied by a light show rather than a bonfire. Tickets on both nights are £12.10 for over 10s, and under 10s go free.
Although not yet confirmed, the Crystal Palace fireworks show is normally one of London’s most spectacular. The Crystal Palace show usually involves a bonfire, laser-filled fireworks display and plenty of licensed bars. The show in 2018 ran from 5-10.30pm.
Most years Victoria Park is a great place to see the Bonfire Night fireworks since it is one of the only free fireworks shows in London. The enormous size of Victoria Park means that there are plenty of spots nearby to see the spectacular display. Details for 2021 have not yet been released, but we’re sure it’s going to be epic.
Southwark Council have been running free fireworks displays for anyone who lives in the borough for 16 years. Although the show has been cancelled in 2021, but typically Southwark puts on a spectacular ticketed show.
Where to eat near the fireworks: Alexandra Palace
La Lluna in Muswell Hill was awarded a Bronze Award by us for its delicious tapas, charcuterie and salt cod croquetas. The restaurant is just round the corner from Alexandra Park, and is the perfect spot to have an aperitif and a bite to eat before visiting the show.
La’De Kitchen is a sophisticated Turkish restaurant, serving a variety of kebabs, ribs and fish cooked over its charcoal barbecue. For those with a sweet tooth, it also serves syrupy, pistachio filled baklava.
Where to eat near the fireworks: Battersea Park
London House by Gordon Ramsay
London House is one of Gordon Ramsay’s several London restaurants, and was awarded a SquareMeal Silver Award. Located around the corner from Battersea Park, London House serves a selection of British classics. The highlights of the menu are the 42 day dry-aged beef rump and pig’s head croquettes.
Pizzeria Pellone London
Pizzeria Pellone London in Lavender Hill serves traditional Neapolitan pizzas, which start at just £8.50 for a Margherita. The restaurant is known for friendly service and its calzone fritto. The calzone fritto is a fried and filled pizza stuffed with ricotta and fior di latte cheese, as well as Neapolitan salami.
Where to eat near the fireworks: Crystal Palace
This classic restaurant serves British favourites like Sunday roasts, as well as a selection of grass-fed steaks from farms in Surrey. Joanna’s was awarded a SquareMeal Bronze Award, and is just a few minutes walk from Crystal Palace. It is the perfect location for a romantic dinner before seeing the fireworks.
Where to eat near the fireworks: Southwark Park
Le Tran Cafe
This small Vietnamese restaurant serves a selection of some of Vietnam’s most well loved dishes - spring rolls, summer rolls, banh mi and pho. The team at Le Tran has also developed vegetarian versions of typically meaty Vietnamese foods, such as bun bo hue and pho xao. Don’t skip dessert either - Le Tran Cafe offers four different types of delicious che, a refreshing chilled pudding.
Been enjoying the Oktoberfest celebrations so far? Check out our list of the best beer advent calendars.