This year I had my first fireworks night in London. I didn’t really know what events were going on or where but fireworks night cannot go uncelebrated so I needed to find myself some place to go. I had plans on Bonfire Night itself – Thursday 5th November – and The Flatmate was away on the Saturday night when many celebrations in London seemed to be happening. Thankfully, there were still some events going on on Friday and, although none seemed to particularly close to Streatham Hill, I managed to find one not too far away in Kingston.
My old Gap Year Travel Buddy has recently moved to South London and wanted to go and find some fireworks so joined us on our trip into Kingston. According to the website, last entry was at 7.45pm, ready for a 8pm start, so I met The Gap Year Buddy outside Norbiton station after work at 7pm.
We wandered through a residential area as we headed down to Kingsmeadow Fitness and Athletics Stadium, where the event was being held. I spotted someone else with what looked like Citymapper or Google Maps open on their phone so figured we were on the right track. Then we found the crowds and the people selling brightly coloured, flashing plastic things and we knew we were in the right place.
The ticket queues were not too long so it wasn’t long before we’d paid our £5 entry fees and were inside, on the prowl for dinner. Now fireworks night is not fireworks night without a hot dog and onions from a food van. Thankfully, there were multiple opportunities for this here. After a quick look round, dodging between various children and fairground rides, we took up our positions in a queue for food. My hot dog was a fiver, which wasn’t too bad for London prices, even if we were quite far out. I did splash out on a more expensive German sausage though but it was actually worth it.
Hot dogs were followed by a visit to the Cadbury’s hot chocolate stand. For £2.50 you could get your hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a flake. This turned out to be necessary because the drink itself wasn’t particularly chocolatey. I almost lost my flake and had to gouge it out before it sunk too far. I should have let it sink and melt, it may have added a bit more flavour.
Finally, after a while, The Flatmate appeared and it was time to move into the stadium part of the athletics centre where the fireworks display would be. The place was busy but we were able to find our own bit of space. We finished off our hot chocolates and I went off to find a bin for our cups. Stupidly, I didn’t pay much attention to where I was walking and, on my way back, I soon realised I was lost and disorientated. Luckily, my friends were checking their phones and The Gap Year Buddy started waving her arms in the air. I could spot her white jacket above the crowd and I was back with them before the fireworks began.
The fireworks display started a bit late. The announcer kept saying it would be any minute and then stated that he could “officially” tell us that it would be starting in a couple of minutes. A short while later, finally, the stadium lights were turned off and things began.
The display was actually pretty good. It went on for while and at times the fireworks even seemed to fit with beats of the music playing in the background. I don’t know if that was planned but a lot of thought seemed to have gone into both the fireworks and the music (I particularly appreciated the fact that they played Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off – I do love a bit of Taylor). At one point, a heart shaped firework exploded in the air and the crowd went nuts. The next couple of heart shaped fireworks weren’t quite as discernible but the crowd still loved them.
After the display, it took a little while for us to fight our way out, through the crowds, but soon enough we were through and en route to the station. It had been a successful night and, to put the cherry on the sundae, we didn’t even have to wait that long for our connecting train in Clapham Junction – that hardly ever happens.
The only thing that made the night feel slightly less like a traditional fireworks night was the temperature. I’d put on my leather boots, a thin knit top with a vest underneath and my sheepskin lined jacket. I was boiling from the moment I stepped outside the front door. It was a positively balmy night. I’d brought my gloves and hat with me but they stayed firmly in my bag and my scarf ended up in there, right alongside them. I usually associate fireworks night with losing feeling in my limbs and having to make myself a nice warm drink and cover myself with blankets when I get home. However, it did mean that I arrived home in slightly less pain than in other years so I can’t complain.