November 5th is of course Bonfire Night in the UK and I celebrated by going to a Fireworks Night and an Illuminated Garden at Dartmouth Park or Sandwell Valley in West Bromwich which took place on the 4th and 5th November.
For followers who aren’t in the UK or are unfamiliar I’ll just briefly explain what Bonfire Night.
Bonfire Night is a night in the UK where we celebrate a failed attempt by a man named Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. They were Catholic and the English King, James I was Protestant so they wanted to kill him to install a Catholic ruler but after a tip-off Guy Fawkes was discovered with the barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament. He was arrested and executed where he was hung, drawn and quartered.
Bonfire Night is where we mark this occasion with a large fire and fireworks and sometimes an effigy of Guy Fawkes is thrown onto the fire as well. There is also a famous nursery rhyme in the UK which though most of the rhyme itself is forgotten the first line is a common saying this time of year “Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot”.
4th November – Illuminated Garden
On the 4th November, Sandwell Valley was lit up at night with an illuminated garden. We decided to go to this and take my mum and dad along as my mum gets really bad sore throats around smoke and open fires so as this was a night without the Bonfire it would be a night for her to come out and celebrate.
Unfortunately I would say the actual illuminated garden wasn’t too great as it was just the park with spotlights really and I had been expecting something similar to Walsall Arboretum’s illuminations that have sadly been discontinued now but I loved going there when I was little. Although there were things going on around the park such as a steel pan band, a mysterious mermaid in a glass box and a kids theatre show.
On the main stage there were also some shows, including a really funny one with dinosaurs. There were some shows on later but the weather was quite cold so afterwards we went to the Queens Inn pub where we had a meal which was delicious and I wo.uld recommend – TikTok video of the dinosaur show is below.
5th November - Fireworks Night
The following night we returned again to the park for the Fireworks Night which unfortunately though there were some good parts wasn’t too great.
Starting with the positives, the stage was again set and they had some shows which were really enjoyable for the ones we did see. The Little Mix Show was a Little Mix Tribute band who I thought were really cool, we also saw part of Bhangra Smash Up who were fantastic and a Fire performance that was brilliant.
Unfortunately as I was with people who didn’t go on the Friday they wanted to walk around so I didn’t see all of the shows and to be honest I wish I had stayed there and probably would have had a much better night overall as a result.
We instead went to the fairground which was in a word chaos. There was no queueing system for any of the rides and people were just barging into each other to try to get a seat and if the ride was filled up you then had to wait for the next one. I have seen quite a few stories on Facebook of little kids at the event who were pushed over in the rush to get on the rides so this part was a major let down.
Also the street food stalls were expensive and even extortionate, one seller had a single fish and chips for £12.50 and cheeseburgers were £4. I ultimately went with a Jerk Chicken Loaded Fries for £8 which though it looked nice didn’t taste too good. Of course Sandwell Council who ran the event can’t control vendor prices but I could see most people would struggle to pay for these prices as 4 fish and chips would cost almost £50.
Then the final thing was the actual fireworks and bonfire. There wasn’t a bonfire which was very confusing given that was the whole point of the celebration and the fireworks themselves only lasted for around 20 minutes (I took a photo at the start and towards the end of the display and the timestamps are about 20 minutes apart).
Though I do think Sandwell Valley is a actually a real jewel in the crown in our area and is a nice park it seems a shame sometimes and with the stage show there was some fantastic potential but I just think some parts need to be organised a bit better and the food prices needed to be much cheaper than they were.