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Oct 24

Free fireworks: bonfire night on a budget

Reading Time: 5 mins

With Bonfire Night just around the corner, parents everywhere will be succumbing to their children’s desperate pleas for the biggest and loudest fireworks imaginable.

Fear not, though, we’re going to show you that it is possible to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night safely and without spending a fortune.

You could even let someone else do all the hard work instead.


Choosing and buying your fireworks


You’ll probably find yourself dazzled by the array of different and wildly-named fireworks that are on offer, so to make sure you know your Roman candles from your cakes.

Also, make sure you have a look at Pains’ firework safety guide to help you keep safe this year.

With very strict regulations on fireworks, there are limited opportunities to buy them online, so it’s more likely you’ll be picking them up with your weekly shopping.

In fact, the best deals tend to be at the supermarkets. Places like Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Tesco have really good prices on basic fireworks around this time. Also check out the ‘sheds’ like B&Q and Homebase for cut-price ones.


Different types of fireworks


Ever wondered what these extraordinary names mean? Here is a list of the most common fireworks you’re likely to find in the shops:


The easiest and most basic of fireworks. Sparklers are hand-held and can be used indoors. They are still very, very hot though, and shouldn’t be given to small children.


Not edible! A cake is a multi-shot firework which has its effects in tubes. You have  tubes side-by-side rather than stacked on top of each other to give the right effect.


A firework that takes off and bursts in the air. Some of them make a big noise as well but the main effect is a burst of colourful lights.

Catherine Wheel

These are nailed to a post so that they can go round and round. They’re exciting and generally set on fire close to the ground. They don’t take off into the air.

Roman candle

This is a vertical shot of fire and colours. It can last longer than most rockets.


A static firework that creates a fountain effect a crackly sound when ignited.


Be safe with fireworks

Firework fuse

If you’re going to have fireworks of your own, there are a few things we you need to remember:

  • While you want to get value for money, don’t cut too many corners; only buy fireworks which conform to British standards Check for BS7114:1988, BS EN 15947:2010, or CE markings which confirms they’ve been made to meet British or European safety standards.
  • Fireworks should always be kept in a sealed tin and used one at a time.
  • Sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil! Light them one at a time, and never give them to children under five.
  • One person should be in charge of the fireworks. They should read all the instructions fully in the daylight and not drink any alcohol until all the fireworks have been set off.
  • Be well prepared with a torch, a few buckets of water, eye protection, gloves and a bucket of soft earth or sand to put the fireworks in.
  • Light the fireworks at arm’s length, use a taper and then stand well back. Never go near a lit firework; even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode.
  • For advice on protecting your pets on Bonfire Night, see the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform firework safety pages.


Keep your belongings safe

Guy Fawkes on large bonfire

Bonfire Night is like Christmas come early for burglars, so make sure that all your doors and windows are locked and your alarm is set while you’re all out in the garden.

check your insurance

It is also worth checking your buildings and contents insurance policy to make certain that you’re covered for bonfire and firework damage.

Most policies will cover this, but check if any outbuildings and garden contents are included.

You should also check how much your policy would pay if someone were to get injured in your home or garden because of fireworks.

If you are holding your own fireworks display at home, take a look at the Health and Safety Executives suggestions here to keep you all safe.


Free Fireworks displays

People watching fireworks

It can certainly be nice to do a fireworks party in your garden – or an indoor one at home – but it’s a LOT cheaper, easier and, frankly, safer to go to a public one.

If you’d rather leave it all to the professionals – and we would! – there are lots of good displays happening around the country, most of them free.

lewes, east sussex

We have to give a special mention to the ancient town of Lewes in East Sussex here.

Just as Notting Hill is known for its Carnival which local people prepare for all year, so in Lewes, local people prepare for Guy Fawkes Night all year round.

There are seven specific bonfire societies and they create their costumes and bonfire effigies through the year.

On the night itself they all parade through the town and end up at their own bonfire somewhere on the outskirts of the town.

It’s a pretty raucous affair so only worth going to the bonfires themselves if you are feeling strong and have  clear way of getting out (seriously). However, the parade is good for families, singles, couples and groups to enjoy.

Worth a visit one year at least!


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Rachel Hounslow
Rachel Hounslow
9 years ago

Excellent article – it’s a shame that it’s harder to get fireworks now because of the regulations. Me and my husband are thinking of doing a display in our garden this Friday, so looks like we’ll be heading to ALDI! Thanks guys,

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