If you’re planning a fall trip to London, you might want to consider experiencing Guy Fawkes Night, otherwise known as Bonfire Night. It’s a wild night and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Most expats I talk to find this entire concept very confusing. A wintery celebration to recognize a bad guy?
Guy Fawkes, the man of the night, apparently tried and failed to blow up parliament in 1605. Now there is a night either honoring his boldness or his capture, I’m not exactly sure which. And no one seems to be able to give me a straight answer. But it’s fine, since with it comes a lot of fun. Set on November 5th, an otherwise boring time of year, you get to congregate with a rowdy crowd and watch fireworks, a huge bonfire, and drink your face off.
My venue of choice is Battersea Park. Their fireworks display is held on the Saturday on or following Guy Fawkes Night. The park becomes the venue for an impressive ticketed food fair surrounding large bonfire and fireworks displays. Around 50,000 people come together to eat and drink around pallets stacked far above the crowd and cheer as they’re set on fire to create the biggest bonfire imaginable. This was the scene of my youth–pallet fires, a bunch of hicks, townies, and teenagers in the woods swigging beer from Bud bottles. Even though, in Battersea, we were sipping on mulled wine, it was kind of nice to see this down-to-earth side of the city that briefly reminded me of home.
With the bonfire also came a very impressive fireworks display. The American in me still cannot not wrap my head around fall fireworks. Who wants to stand outside in the freezing cold to appreciate such beauty? Isn’t it way better to put a blanket down, lay in shorts and a tank top watching the stars before the show begins? Sipping vodka drinks out of thermoses? Listening to some country music with the tailgate down? Ahhh, America.
Anyway, the Battersea Fireworks Display is a pretty amazing one. Reasonably priced at about £10, it’s a long, colorful show in a nice little location. I enjoyed the beautiful walk across the Albert Bridge into the closed off park. I had some nice drinks with great friends and watched one of England’s oldest traditions come alive right before my eyes. It was definitely a great place to experience my first Bonfire Night. I highly recommend.
Battersea Fireworks Display