I have the best memories of fireworks night at Alexandra Palace all those years ago when it was a free event. Crisp cool clear nights, an exciting buzz and the thrill that only a vivid shock of fireworks across the cityscape can give you. Over the last few years we’ve been very reserved with attending firework events. The littler displays suited our then, Baby Button who wasn’t that keen on the big bangs. But now she’s big 6 and no longer adorably calling it ‘boooomfire night’, we thought it was about time we gave Alexandra Palace fireworks festival a go again. Here’s how we got on.
The annual fireworks festival is now a ticketed event. We are on the mailing list so as soon as I got the note saying that tickets were on sale, I zapped across and bought ours. It’s such a popular event now that it doesn’t pay to wait until nearer the time to book. Our tickets were only a snip at £7 per adult and £1 per child. Very reasonable for a big fireworks display in London. Our tickets were sent by email and the week before the festival we were sent a further email with some fab tips on making the most of our visit, a map and timings for all the extra bits that were happening – this was really handy.
We already knew that there would be absolutely no where to park and that buses would be on divert and not going up the hill into the Alexandra Palace grounds on the day. This meant thinking up a different strategy for getting there. Previously we had always gone the Wood Green station route. It’s a long old walk and pretty steep towards the end. Not great for little legs to be honest. But this time on a tip off from another parent, we went via the Crouch End route (gate 6) and it was a much better entrance. Busy, but a gentler walk and it fed right into the family area, with easy access to the upper viewing levels too.
We arrived just after 6pm and found the ques weren’t too bad leading up and into the family area at all. There were plenty of amusements to suit most tastes and lots of food and drink stalls. The Cadbury’s hot choccy was calling me but we ended up grabbing some chips (£3) and a burger (£7) which were pretty standard (no fuss so good for kids) and about right for London prices.
Lots of parents have previously recommended viewing the fireworks from the family viewing area so we thought we would check it out. It was a bit further along, past the fun fair rides. This is also where the fantastic looking outdoor circus was located and the huge bonfire. To get to the area you had to walk down a grass (muddy) bank. It was all very dark, and whilst I’m sure that this would appeal to so many parents, it was an instant turn off to us. Just to be sure, we did walk along the upper path to have a good look down there, but the crowds were so deep and packed that there was no way we would have been happy to venture into the thick of it.
So, at just after 7pm we decided to head further up the hill to the viewing area closer to Alexandra Palace itself. At that point it wasn’t overly busy, and we stumbled upon a great spot by the barriers which overlooked the field where all the action would be taking place. It was on a pathway and the flat paved ground was a welcome sight!
From where we stood, looking back and up towards the Palace, there appeared to be lots of places to stand to get a great view. However, it wasn’t without its small issues (being out of the family area). As a paid event, people where there for a good time (rightly so!) and there were plenty of groups who were quite merry. Whilst in general the atmosphere was jolly, as like anywhere serving alcohol, there were a few who were a bit rowdy and potty mouthed. Whilst I’m sure they were normally lovely, we ended up next to a group of girls whose every second word was ‘fuuuuuuuuuu………dge’ (you know… the other version of it). Good job we brought the ear defenders for Little Button that’s all I can say!
A laser show set the mood at 7.30pm in the lead up to the fireworks at 8pm. I’m sure it was brilliant, but we just couldn’t see much of it as we had lots of adults packed in right behind us. The laser show is projected onto Alexander Palace from the field. Instead, we just looked out at the beams of light ahead and chattered away waiting for the fireworks to begin. This didn’t spoil the mood at all.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Absolutely incredible instantly springs to mind. The fireworks display kicked off with a huge projected head of Guy Fawkes talking in the field in front of us. It looked stunning and caught everyone’s attention. I don’t think I’ve seen a huge crowd go from ramped up to silent so quickly.
Its booming voice loud and clear set the tone and finished up dramatically exploding with sprays of glittery fireworks. And then, the music started. Dancing begin (from the younger crowd) and cheers rode like a wave in time to all the glitzy fizz, pops and bangs.
It was definitely the place to be on fireworks night. Completely mesmerised by the display, I only went and forgot to take photos (doh!) and only have a handful of blurry snaps to share. Opps!
So you’ll have to take my word for it that they were awesome (or pop over to twitter and use #AlexandraPalace to pull up all the photos from the night). I don’t think anyone does fireworks like Alexandra Palace!
It was a brilliant night, there’s no doubt about that. Yes, it was hard work with a little one in tow, and yes, it was cold and extremely crowded. But, the fireworks display was mesmerising and worth every penny in our opinion. Will we be going back next year? I’m not 100% sure. If it was just us grownups then the answer would be of course. But with Little Button I’m 50/50 at the moment. Big pushy crowds aren’t her thing, and it’s a tall ask to have a little one out in the cold so late. But let’s see.