Traditional Bonfire Night?
September 20, 2014 9:16 PM   Subscribe

We’re going to be in London for Guy Fawkes Night this year and we’re hoping to find an actual bonfire within an hour or so from the city by train.

We most likely have an idealized vision of what an old-fashioned Bonfire Night is, but we’re hoping for a community affair — actually on Nov 5 — with a gate price for a local cause or charity, food and drink stalls, fireworks not required (we’ll be seeing plenty of those in London.)

Bonus points if we can get there directly from Cannon St, (or nearby stations ).
posted by not.so.hip to Travel & Transportation around London, England (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The traditional bonfire night is unsupervised kids stealing cars, rubbish and furniture, pouring petrol on it and lighting it on fire, occasionally throwing engulfed pieces at the rozzers and the fire brigade, and not infrequently blowing themselves up. It's marvellous.

You are probably looking, however, for Lewes, which is the Bonfire capital of the UK and served by fast train from London. Alternatively, though harder to get to, is Lindfield, which is a very traditional English village and would suit if you don't mind being surrounded by Tory voters 300 thick on all sides.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:33 PM on September 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you can get down to the Sussex south coast, that's where the really nutty bonfire stuff happens, particularly in Lewes. Brockham in Surrey has a village celebration that brings in thousands of people, but that's on the Saturday afterwards, reflecting how it's mainly the nutters these days who still hold their celebrations on a school night.
posted by holgate at 9:42 PM on September 20, 2014


Definitely Lewes: the most impressive Guy Fawkes celebrations in England.

Double check online what night they'll be doing the procession and bonfire - Guy Fawkes is such a big deal in Sussex that the towns take turns hosting bonfires (which aren't just bonfires but have processions of bonfire societies all in costume, carrying flaming torches, then the big bonfire, and a general party). A friend of mine grew up in a little village outside Lewes - we saw theirs one year the Saturday before Guy Fawkes and it was amazing: a pagent and procession like something out of the 17th century, only with road flares in addition to torches. But the whole time, everyone was saying how it wasn't as impressive as Lewes.
posted by jb at 9:53 PM on September 20, 2014


Lewes is good but please read this comment about it so you know what you're getting.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:18 AM on September 21, 2014


If you prefer to stay in London here is a listing from visitlondon.com. There are a couple of the 5th. Mostly the displays move over to the nearest weekend. I'm not too familiar with London but I would still chose the Crystal Palace display: quirky place, lovely views, impressive park. You could google street view to get an sense of the place. (This should be a view of the park with sphynxes, if I've done it right)

More about local displays: viewlondon.co.uk, TimeOut

Hopefully some actual Londoners will chime in about their local firework displays. That's your best bet for a family do rather than a touristy affair.
posted by glasseyes at 2:41 AM on September 21, 2014


Best answer: There should be one in pretty much every local park in the Greater London area. I've been to good ones in Battersea Park, and in my time the Wimbledon Park bonfire night was fantastic- a proper huge bonfire, lots of fireworks, a funfair and related stalls, and lots of happy families trundling around in wellies.
posted by mymbleth at 8:30 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Just got back from Wimbledon Park and it was everything we were hoping for. Thanks so much mymbleth for the recommendation.

In case anyone stumbles across this question in the future, we were able to buy our tickets in advance from the local council website.

The park was easy to get to from the tube and it was very nice that they actually had two separate bonfires/fireworks shows. We went to the earlier one for families and there were tons of people but it never felt overcrowded.

The bonfire itself was impressive and the fireworks show was really lovely. There were plenty of food and drink options; even mulled wine at one of the stalls! I would definitely go again if I had the chance.

Thanks again to everyone who answered.
posted by not.so.hip at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


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