Difford's Guide

Northiam Bonfire Procession & Fireworks image 1

Northiam Bonfire Procession & Fireworks

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by George Rowson

Our office nestles in the beautiful English Sussex countryside in a village called Northiam, a village that is known for its annual Bonfire Procession & Fireworks. It's quite a spectacle and we're proud to be one of the local companies which support this local tradition.

If you'd like to watch the procession, gasp at spectacular fireworks over a monster bonfire, having perhaps first refreshed yourself in the beer tent, then this year's bonfire is on Saturday 8th October.

Info for 2022 Bonfire Procession & Fireworks

The flaming torch-lit procession will leave the Bonfire Field (on the A28 south of the village) at 7.30pm, working its way to drumbeats through the village before returning to the Bonfire Field. Once back at the Field, at approximately 8:30, the Bonfire will be lit, followed by a Firework Display which is impressive, to say the least. A bar, food trucks, children's amusements and toilets sit adjacent to the bonfire.

Entry to the Field is just £2 per person (please bring coins) and along with fundraising events such as the village Midsummer Festival, this donation helps raise funds for next year's fireworks. Along the procession there will also be charity collectors (rattling distinctive purple buckets) and the money collected in these buckets is donated to local charities and good causes.

Please come early as the main road through the village (the A28) closes at 6:30pm in readiness for the procession (it opens again at 11pm) but your satnav should allow you to circumvent the closure if you're a little late.

Please be aware that there are no street lights in the village or surrounding roads so please bring a torch.

The field requisitioned for the main car park is on the A28 a five-minute walk south of the village and the Bonfire Field.

Who's behind this event?

The village boasts its share of clubs and societies, one of which is the Northiam Bonfire Society which organises this annual event. All the members are volunteers who not only staff the event but organise fundraising events such as the Midsummer Festival and the annual Great Northiam Run – one of the southeast's most challenging 10k runs. The 1,000 flaming torches used during the procession are made by the volunteers in a production line of drillings, nailing and hessian sack wrapping and this is just one of the many tasks that are undertaken behind the scenes to make this annual spectacle possible.

You'll be able to spot the Boyes and Belles of the Northiam Bonfire Society due to their Highwaymen outfits.

The tradition behind the event

This bonfire festival celebrates "the joyful day of deliverance" from the 1605 Gunpowder Plot being discovered, celebrated on 5th November each year, a date marked by an Act of Parliament passed three months after the plot was discovered and foiled. But with bonfire festivals in villages and towns dotted across central and eastern Sussex (with a few also in the neighbouring counties of Surrey and Kent), to enable each bonfire society to parade and take part in neighbouring festivals, these are held, one or two per weekend, from September to November. Northiam is one of the first (so benefits from warmer weather and lighter evenings).