Whilst not reaching the terrifying pitch of the infamous bonfire night celebrations in Lewes, Sussex(multiple bonfires, fireworks released in packed, narrow streets, careering barrells of fire), thousands of people turn out to South Park in east Oxford each year to watch a splendid display followed - in recent years - by the burning of an enormous wicker sculpture (info here). Here's what our roving reporter Matty thought of 2008's display.
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Well, the eighth of November to be precise, but a charming night all the same. Gates opened at 5.30pm, a good hour and a half before anything actually happened. Arriving punctually left one with little to do bar a few mildly overpriced amusement rides and the standard slew of burger-and-chips / crepes / sweets stalls.
Those arriving at the posted start time of 6.30pm were greeted by a really rather sodden South Park. Though not currently raining, masses of boots marching in one direction had left the field in a state unfit for the trainers, pumps and even (poor souls) high heels that abounded. Walking boots definitely a must on this occasion, and a walkway made of those plastic grid things would not have gone amiss.
The main event was held at the top of the field, suitably far away from the freeloading crowd of non-ticket-holders gathered by the front gate. There we were greeted by a giant effigy, standing easily six metres tall, clutching a sword in one upraised arm and a spear in the other. This was no ordinary Guy Fawkes. It was in fact unclear who this soon-to-be crispy warrior was, and I can only surmise that dear old Guy failed to make an appearance due to the politically incorrect nature of catholic burning.
The fireworks only started at around seven, but this was no real bother. The atmosphere was warm, with kids and sparklers zipping this way and that, and the weather really could have been a lot worse. Just as it started to spit our main event began: large, multicoloured explosions, streaking crackly bursts and arcing, sparkly plumes abounded. It was the classic fireworks display, and no man could ask for more. All the old favourites were there and fired continuously, with only breaks of a few seconds, for a solid half hour. After 30 minutes of colourful bliss the final volley lit up the sky, to be answered with delighted applause and whooping. A good time was had by all.
During the last five minutes however the heavens opened properly and it was only a rather diminished crowd who stayed to watch the effigy and the massive bonfire burn. A pity really, for it was a lovely fire. Still, the fireworks alone were well worth the £6 ticket, and I will be sure to go again next year.
If you like fireworks and poetry, click here to read the entries in Daily Info's 2008 fireworks poetry competition. Prizes were free tickets to the Round Table display in South Park.
If it's getting near bonfire night as you read this, visit our homepage to see if we're running a fireworks poetry competition right now!