Remember, remember! The fifth of November, the Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot! - English Folk Verse c.1870
With Guy Fawkes, Diwali and Hanukkah all around the corner, it’s time to instil a candlelit glow on our windowsills and bedazzle the sky with the magic of fireworks. The East End becomes even more vibrant around this time of year, with the darkness of night cloaking the revelries of the season, allowing for that little bit more mischief.
We’ve curated a list of five pyrotechnics events easily commutable from the local area that’ll shower the crowds with bursts of neon rain, delighting both the wild side of big kids and the imagination of little ones.
Walthamstow: 5th November 2015, 7pm onwards
Chestnuts Field, Waltham Forest Town Hall Complex, Walthamstow E17 4JF
Taking place on Thursday 5th November itself, the Walthamstow Fireworks Display observes Guy Fawkes with its annual commemoration of explosive fun. Hosted in the Chestnuts Showground, the fenced area is kitted out with funfair rides, food stalls and general family entertainment with entrances opening at 7pm and the display kicking off at 8pm. Head on down to witness community spirit in all its electric hues, while the town hall makes for a beautiful background.
Stoke Newington: 7th November 2015, 6.30pm onwards
Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, Hackney N16 9HJ
A fireworks spectacular with a spectacular twist, Hackney Council’s Pyromusical marks 410 years since the infamous Gunpowder Plot with an injection of sound – choreographing each fizz, pop and spiral through the sky to a score sheet voted for by local residents. The audio-visual experience is on for a second year running, and this time the chosen theme is superheroes - so grab your tickets, get your capes on and head to the gates at 6pm. There will be funfair rides, themed entertainment and refreshment stalls to keep you busy before the animal and baby friendly fireworks go off at 7.30pm. Last time featured fire-walkers, an aerialist and illuminated stilt-walkers, so this is definitely worth putting your hands in your pockets for.
East Village: 5th November 2015, 6.15pm onwards
Victory Park, Celebration Avenue, Stratford E20 1DB
It’s pretty hard to follow up the closing ceremony of the Olympics, but that’s what’s going to happen this Bonfire Night at Victory Park, where the athletics extravaganza was held back in 2012. As temperatures drop to a cool that calls for light scarves, leaves descend upon our paths enchanting us with their crisp brown splendour, and soft gusts of autumn usher us forward to our destinations – this is surely going to be a beautiful night, no doubt thanks to a mesmerising wind activated light display made up of 500 twinkling bulbs. After you've ripped yourself away from that, grab a warm tea and some grub from the likes of Beijing street food vendor Mama Lan before the E20 fireworks provide a feast for the eyes.
Victoria park: 7th November 2015, 7pm fireworks
Grove Road, Bow, London E3 5TB
Making a comeback after a five-year hiatus, the Victoria Park Fireworks return. This is the occasion where Tower Hamlets Council gives the stars a run for their money and sprinkles the night with rocket, willows, Roman candles and chrysanthemums to exclamations of oohs and aahs. With admission free, this event can get crowded and therefore doesn’t have rides and the like, but turn up early and expect scintillating visuals with a soundtrack to measure - and possibly a stand selling mulled wine. Closest tubes are Bethnal Green or Mile End, don't forget to send in your piccies to #fireworksTH to say thank you for the magic!
Guy Fawkes Festival and Fireworks: 7th & 8th November 2015, 2pm onwards
Beaulieu Dr, Waltham Abbey EN9 1JX
Situated in the 170 acre of parkland that is the Royal Gunpowder Mills, this 17th century site (including its 20 historic buildings) is the foremost producer of gunpowder in England – having been acquired by the crown for the secrecy of its location surrounded by the River Lee. While a network of boardwalks, bridges and footpaths let you meander through the wild, an interactive showcase tells of all the gory tales to have passed right here over the years. An armoury of 200 guns from the English Civil War onwards, a fire transport exhibit featuring a powder barge and restored locomotives, and an apt expose of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot are just some of the year-long explorations available here.
So set the coming weekend off with a bang at Guy Fawkes Festival and Fireworks - though this is on the fringes of East London, trust me it’s worth the rail journey or drive. Bringing a more than just a bit of sparkle to increasingly chilly evenings, fireworks night couldn’t be done better with the fitting background being taken full advantage of. There will be a period re-enactment of the happenings in Parliament that day with costumes and all, education about the folk and food of the 1600s, craft activities such as making a Guy Fawkes lantern plus live music, a fairground, a barbecue and crucially, a bar. That’s on both days, each culminating in 15-minutes of fireworks at 7pm. The finale celebrations will undoubtedly pepper those who get in before the 6.30pm last entry with alchemic confetti like they’ve never seen it – so get your wonder passes for less than a tenner here.
With a potential English revolution thwarted, we owe Guy Fawkes, his dodgy conspirators, a bit of gunpowder and some bad plotting for our ancient ritual of bonfires, effigies and pyrotechnics – for a bonus bit of history, check out his post-torture confession of 1605, thanks to The National Archive: