With a two-year COVID-induced hiatus since the last public events, it’s a little harder to remember, remember the 5th of November! Plenty of Guy Fawkes Night London events won’t return for 2021, but a few of the biggies are back to trigger those memories, although you’ll probably be paying a pretty penny for the privilege this year.

Bonfire Night London Guy Fawkes Night
Photo by Aurelien Guichard used under CC

A night of flames and fireworks, Bonfire Night is an age-old tradition celebrating the failure of the infamous plot to kill King James the First, who—thanks to some police intervention and a little tattletaling—survived. Also known as Guy Fawkes Night, the best known of the plotters may look familiar if you’ve seen V for Vendetta, or watched a political protest on the news these days. Nowadays we celebrate with bonfires and fireworks in locals parks, with toffee apples, candy floss and the quiet murmurs of ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ as we huddle together in the chilly November evening. It’s possibly the best night of the year (100% the case, if you ask me), so learn about the history and head on down to one of the events in the city!

The history, condensed

guy fawkes night london
Photo by Nottheviewsofmyemployer used under CC

The Gunpowder Plot was the creation of a small group of Catholics intent on blowing up the houses of Parliament on November 5th, 1605, during the official State Opening ceremony. With a complex history of Catholics vs. Protestants at the head of state, with incidents of execution and torture, the marginalised Catholics were determined to replace the King, and had to kill him to do so. They decided on a blast, and set about their work, collecting gunpowder in the basement below the houses. However, the plot was ruined as an anonymous letter was sent in late October, informing officials of the intentions and the group were caught red-handed on November 4th. Guy Fawkes was found guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to destroy the Houses of Parliament completely, although most of the gang escaped and fled. They were eventually caught and sentenced to death for treason, in the spectacularly British tradition of being hung, drawn and quartered.

The traditions

Sparklers Bonfire Night
Photo by Barney Moss used under CC

Having survived, King James created the Observance of the 5th of November Act as a holiday to celebrate his survival, and it is commemorated to this day with bonfires, fireworks and plenty of mulled wine. Be sure to keep an eye out for old traditions like the Penny for the Guy: Children will create Guy Fawkes scarecrows and wheel them about, often collecting change. Some events have best-dressed competitions for Guys, and you may see some burned on top of the bonfires (also sometimes the pope, awks)! Although sparklers are a favourite tradition at bonfires, they are banned at most events due to children and injuries, so pick up a pack and enjoy them at home if you can!

Guy Fawkes Night London events

Morden Park Fireworks
Photo by Frank Steiner used under CC

There are very few towns or villages across England who won’t have some sort of event, so of course London will spoil you rotten with choices. There are some events perfect for children and some are still free. You can even attend fire parades and watch laser shows if you like, so take a look at our list of the top events in the city!

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival (SOLD OUT) |  6 Nov  |  £13.50

Alexandra Palace Fireworks
Photo by Lloyd Winters

If you want to make a real night of it, there is nowhere better to head than good old Ally Pally. The annual fireworks festival has been running for over 150 years and gets bigger every time. The 2021 display brings an incredible weekend of entertainment and fiery fun for everyone to enjoy. Although it was last held over two nights, it’s back to one, so it will be popular despite the now not-so-low admission price. You can arrive in time for the bonfire lighting, watch the incredible circus and choir combo, and enjoy the laser show before the fireworks even begin! The family area, food stalls and craft beer options will keep you full and there are movies and a Bier festival for an extra £13 too. Get Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival tickets here.

Musical fireworks displays: Wimbledon Park (SOLD OUT) and Morden Park (TICKETS AVAILABLE) | 5/6 Nov

Morden Park Fireworks
Photo by Frank Steiner used under CC

Especially designed with kids in mind, the twin Wimbledon (5 November) and Morden Park (6 November) fireworks both have two sets of events, with one starting nice and early at 6:30 pm. After they light the first bonfire, the kid-friendly fireworks will start at 6:45 pm. The second set of events will begin at 8:30 pm followed by a louder display set to the sound of a specially designed setlist. There will be plenty of food and drinks as well as a funfair, so the little ones (and the big ones) can have plenty of fun.

Importantly, family tickets (2 adults + 2 children) are available for £32.10 in advance. If you buy at the gate in Morden, each person will have to pay £10, including kids, so it’s best to be prepared! Also, due to capacity limitations, the only tickets for Wimbledon are online in advance (no on the gate or early bird tickets).

Battersea Fireworks (TICKETS AVAILABLE)

While other fireworks nights have either cancelled or scaled down, Wandsworth Council has done the opposite, expanding the Battersea Fireworks to two nights from the usual one.

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The event is a good choice for families, as there are free tickets for children under 10 years old.

Guy Fawkes Night London events not going ahead in 2021

Ravenscourt Park Fireworks

Not happening in 2021.

Guy Fawkes Festival & Fireworks, Royal Gunpowder Mills

Doesn’t seem to be happening in 2021.

The Walker Fireworks

Next scheduled for 2022.

Victoria Park Fireworks

Victoria Park Fireworks
Victoria Park Fireworks | Photo by Aigars Mahinovs used under CC

Not happening in 2021.

Blackheath Fireworks

Not happening in 2021.

Newham Guy Fawkes Night

Doesn’t seem to be happening in 2021.

The Kingston Fireworks

Not happening in 2021.

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