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Best events for firework night

20th October 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

“Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot”. For over four hundred years we have been celebrating the failed assassination of King James VI of Scotland and I of England. Though the core meaning may have changed over the years, the celebrations still usually involve fireworks, bonfires and merriment.

Different parts of the country mark the occasion in different ways, but often it requires an outdoor venue and with British weather in November, this can often mean mud and distress for those trying to navigate in a mobility aid as well as a lack of disabled bathroom facilities open to the public.

Some of the bigger events have taken accessibility into consideration and they can be great fun for all the family.

Lewes – East Sussex

Lewes may as well be the capital for Bonfire night as the town takes the event very seriously and it is one of the biggest dates on the calendar. Lewes also has six different societies all hosting different celebrations. The festival harks back to not only the earliest traditions, but also the religious element that factored into the time of unrest after 1605. Following the plot (which was engineered by an out spoken catholic Robert Catesby) King James passed ‘The Popish Recusants Act’ forcing any citizen to take an oath to deny the Pope’s authority over the king.

Predictably this caused unrest, and thus bonfire night was known as an evening for disruptions and freedom of speech, especially of a political nature. The town of Lewes has celebrations that encompass all of this, but especially the freedom of speech regarding politics. It may not be suitable if people feel they would be sensitive to this.

However, for those who do wish to see this town central to English Bonfire night, there are a few things to bear in mind for accessibility. Mick Symes from Lewes Borough Bonfire Society says:

“The event includes 6 bonfire sites spread around the outskirts of the town. The event presents many difficulties and obstacles for the disabled visitor, particularly if a wheelchair (Electric or manual) is required. 4 of the sites, are best described as totally unsuitable to the wheelchair user. Cliffe (presold ticket only) site off the narrow Ham road is a field, any rain and it is exceptionally muddy, South Street Juniors site on the railway land nature reserve is fairly solid under foot but the foot paths are narrow through this nature reserve.”

Despite these challenges, Mick points out where those with limited mobility can enjoy the evening:

“Top tips for wheelchair users. Lower part of Town, the pedestrian precinct or the forecourt of Lewes Bus station affords ease of access and ease of going over Phoenix causeway to Waterloo BS Bonfire & fireworks the processions will pass you. Upper part of town,  grab a space on the wide pavements along the high street, or further up St Ann’s hill, easy then to follow on to the fire site, watch for the "follow me" banner and safely use the road,  remember to keep out the way of the processions as they pass. Ear plugs or a woolly hat to cover the ears can make life a bit quieter, and most of all let the processions come to you, there are many of them, it is easiest to stop at a vantage point.”

“TOP TIP If you can make it early, no later than 4.30pm grab a place on the pavement outside Barclays Bank next to the Town Hall.  All the societies will visitthe war memorial where they conduct their acts of remembrance. The full ranks of each society will march past (without tableaux) Lewes Borough BS approach the war memorial in darkness with Chopin's funeral march eerily being played, after the last post is played however the entire society led by its colourful Zulus light up the town for the start of their evening of celebration.”

Hopetoun House – Queensferry 

If you happen to be near Edinburgh for Firework Night this year, then head to Hopetoun House for a spectacular experience. Though there is a bonfire, the firework show is the true spectacle, but it is easy to pass the time before by visiting the stalls of local food and drink.

When it comes to accessibility, though rural, Hopetoun House has catered for its guests. Disabled parking is available however Louisa Kerr from the estate points out: “Hopetoun House & Estate is easily accessible by car. We are in a rural location so have limited public transport links.”

Paths are made of a suitable surface and disabled bathrooms are available as well as an information tent for any guests requiring assistance. 

Southwark Fireworks- London

This free event is perfect for anyone staying close to the capital around the 5th November. Currently in its 14th year, the event is well loved, with a children’s fun fair and entertainment prepared prior to the fireworks.

According to Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Social Regeneration: “Southwark Firework Night is one of the most spectacular in London, and free to all our residents. We do our best to make it accessible to everyone, because we love to see a broad range of people enjoying our pyrotechnic extravaganza.

“We provide Blue Badge parking and a drop-off/pick-up point and we also have an accessible viewing area that can be reached via tarmacked and paved footpaths, this is reserved for those who need it and people can use a free food and beverage delivery service, from our onsite traders to this area too. Accessible toilets will be available on site, all of which will be signposted, and a big team of stewards and security are available and happy to help with any requests.”

Lego ninjago fireworks spectacular

For an event for all the family, make a day of it by heading to LEGOLAND. Even if the younger member in the party is not obsessed with Ninjago, there is so much to see and do at Legoland that they will be appeased. By the time night falls, get ready to be amazed by the brilliant display that will sum up the day perfectly.

For those who worry about accessibility, the park has a clear and complete accessibility guide that can be found here. There is lots of seating available for those who do not wish to stand for the entire fifteen minutes. To ensure no accidents occur, key areas of the park are floodlit to maintain visibility. A representative of the park said:

“The Fireworks are a popular event every year, and are sure to be enjoyed by all. This year guests can join their favourite LEGO NINJAGO heroes and Master Wu in an epic pyrotechnic celebration of the elements!”

“The pre-show ahead of the fireworks display will begin at 6pm, so we would recommend arriving nice and early to make sure you have a place you can be comfortable.”

Image Credit: Miles Sabin (Flickr), Gordon Hamilton, LEGOLAND.