Love it or hate it, it’s that time of year again when the skies light up and we celebrate the failed Gunpowder Plot – an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament (I’m saying nothing). There are dozens of events across Sussex from large to small with amazing processions, fancy dress, sparklers and lots of effigies. We’ve picked some of the best across the region in 2022, so wrap up warm, prepare your vocal chords for the obligatory “Oooos” and “Ahs” and head out to enjoy these Sussex bonfires and fireworks displays.
Horsham Fireworks – 29th October
Held at the Horsham Sports Club in Cricketfield Road, gates open at 5.30 pm and the firework display starts at 7.30 pm. There are also vintage fairground rides, various street food stalls, and a large beer tent and bar area. You do need to buy tickets (although under 5s are free) and plan ahead for parking – there is no parking in the immediate vicinity. Booking is via Horsham Firework Night on Eventbrite.
Firle Bonfire, near Lewes – 29th October
Another event taking place in October is the Firle Fireworks which includes a torchlight procession around the village followed by fireworks at the fire site on the playing fields. There is food, a bar and free parking but again, you’ll need to book.
Littlehampton Bonfire Night – 29th October
Littlehampton’s bonfire celebrations start at 10 am with an artisan market and also include a fair. There’s a procession at 7.00 pm and of course, a bonfire, and you are asked to buy a programme for £1 which helps towards costs. As always, parking restrictions and road closures apply!
Hastings Bonfire Night – 15th October
This event includes a torchlit procession with fireworks along the route, drumming, a bonfire, an effigy and the Grand Finale Firework Display on the beach. You do not have to buy tickets.
Shoreham – 4th November
Being hosted by The Harbour Club, there will be a DJ for this event which is described as a “massive firework extravaganza!”.
Lewes Bonfire Night – 5th November
We cannot mention the 5th November celebrations without mentioning Lewes, which hosts the biggest 5th November event in the world. There are seven bonfire societies in Lewes and the different societies and processions make their way through the narrow streets. Each procession and society has its own traditions, costumes, bonfires, fireworks and fire displays. In short, Lewes bonfire night is a truly spectacular event with a carnival festival the likes of which you’re not likely to see anywhere else. Events kick off with a smugglers’ barrel run at 5.30 pm and thereafter there will be seven processions.
It really is a massive event and you do need to be mindful of the challenges this presents for a Medieval town with narrow streets and old buildings. This event is aimed at local people, and there will be a police cordon in place from 5 pm to 2.00 am on the 6th of November, as well as road closures throughout the town. No trains will stop at Lewes or other local stations from 3 pm Saturday to 6 am Sunday. Buses will stop at designated locations on the outskirts of the town. A lot of walking can be involved. Tickets are available to different bonfire society events via Eventbrite. You can find out more at: Lewes Bonfire Society.
Photo credit to Carlotta Luke / Visit Lewes
Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks, near Midhurst – 5th November
This renowned bonfire and fireworks display in the village of Heyshott, starts with a torchlit procession to the bonfire and a Punch and Judy show before the main firework display. Entry is free but you are invited to make a cash donation to support the event.
Wadhurst Fireworks – 5th November
Organised by the Wadhurst Warriors at Stone Cross Farm, you need to buy tickets for this event. There will be a bar, BBQ and one of the biggest displays in the county! You can buy tickets here: Wadhurst Bonfire
Cuckfield Park – 5th November
This event is held in the beautiful grounds of Cuckfield Park and includes a huge bonfire followed by a professionally run firework display, choreographed to music. Gates open at 5.30 pm, the bonfire will be lit at 6.45 pm and fireworks begin at 7.30 pm. Booking is required.
Battle Bonfire Night – 5th November
Battle has its own unique firework traditions and traditionally only the body of the guy was burnt and the head kept for the following year. The head you see at this display is believed to have been created around 1795 and is made from pear wood. Each year a new body is made including an excessively tall body in 1897 when the guy was a good 12 feet tall! The tradition of detaching and burning the body stopped around the 1940s and since then the effigy is used as part of the celebrations but doesn’t see the flames of the fire. Of course, there’s also a procession and fireworks. It’s free to attend but you’re asked to make a donation.
Worthing – 5th November
Free and on the pier, this event starts at 7.45 pm and there will be a fun fair and food stalls.
Ardingly –11th November
Held at the showground, this is a paid event (under 5s are free) but includes a fairground, children’s display and main display.
Rye Bonfire – 12th November
Another iconic Sussex bonfire event takes place in Rye, with a procession (from 7.50 pm) through the streets before the main display. There will be parking restrictions and road closures so plan ahead. Again, you are invited to make a donation to support the event.
Lindfield Bonfire Night – 5th November
The procession starts at 7.30 pm with the Grand Fireworks at 8. 30 pm. It seems to be a non-ticketed event.
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