Relive the spectacle of Bonfire Night with travel writer Helen Locke, and book your trip to Plymouth Sound now

English Literature student at the University of Birmingham
Images by Helen Locke

If you want to relive the excitement of bonfire night, then get ahead and start planning your summer trip to Plymouth. Fireworks here literally are the best of Britain, as this town hosts the British Fireworks Championships, and it is as amazing as it sounds.

Every August at Plymouth Sound, six professional display companies gather to demonstrate their skills. Pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with fireworks, the displays they engineer are startlingly artistic.  It is satisfying to think that the spectacle in front of you is designed to live up to some very exacting criteria. There are eight scoring categories: ‘Design’, ‘Performance’, ‘Symmetry’, ‘Overall Impression’, ‘Variety’, ‘Rhythm’, ‘Colour’, and ‘Overall Wow Factor’. This year, the judges were rather harsh on some displays, ‘lack of symmetry in terms of height and star duration’ being among their comments. Who knew fireworks were such a serious business? The winning display, however, was ‘beautifully thought out… every sequence was considered’. Past displays have made use of impressive 3D effects, with sparks flying out in the shape of hearts and Saturn’s rings.

The official competition website recommends the Citadel and Plymouth Hoe for the best views. But if you take my advice, avoid the crowds and aim for higher ground, to take in the panorama of the night time ocean backdrop. The showers of golden light reflect beautifully in the dark waters of Plymouth Sound, and you can see the sparks falling precariously amongst dozens of little boats. Next year is the champion-of-champions event in which the national winners from the previous six years compete. This will be a spectacle not to be missed. Book a hotel now, as when championships time comes (8th-9th August 2018), tens of thousands of visitors will descend on Plymouth.