Sadiq Khan has already confirmed there's no prospect of a NYE fireworks spectacular in central London this year. Plenty of other displays are set to be cancelled too. Question is: can Londoners do their own fireworks? Let's take a look at the rules.
Can you set off fireworks in London?
The simple answer is yes. But there's more to it than that — and it goes way beyond being 18 or over, making sure your whizzbangs are sold by a trustworthy source, and ensuring you store them correctly.
Can you set off fireworks in London parks?
Nope, not even if it's a wide open space with seemingly no one around. Members of the public can't set off fireworks on any kind of public land, including parks and streets. (This rule applies to sparklers too.) So that mini spectacular you had planned on Hampstead Heath isn't happening — unless you want to risk an on-the-spot fine of £90, and a fine up to £5,000 or imprisonment for up to six months.
Where CAN I set fireworks off from?
If you're one of those lucky ol' Londoners with a back garden, that's the place to do it. You still need to make sure you're doing it safely, though. You'll want to use category 2 (garden) fireworks, which are safely viewable from five, or sometimes eight, metres away. If you've got a tiny garden, it's probably not fit for fireworks. And if you live in a really built up area, or close to a major road, don't take the risk.
And what about setting off fireworks from my balcony?
Lots of Londoners have balconies, but launching fireworks from them is a no no.
Who do I need to inform if I do set off fireworks in my garden?
Legally, you don't need to tell anyone. But it's common courtesy to at least give your immediate neighbours a heads up — especially if they've got pets or children. To err on the side of caution, Gov.uk also suggests you check with your local council for any special rules.
And I can set off my fireworks anytime between now and New Year's?
Not quite. Even if you're the right age, have the private outdoor space, and are being as responsible as you humanly can, you can only set off (and purchase) fireworks at specific times. So you can only buy fireworks*:
- Between 15 October and 10 November
- 26-31 December
- Three days before Diwali (which this year falls on 14 November)
- Three days before Chinese New Year (12 February 2021)
And you can only set off fireworks between 7pm and 11pm, with the exception of:
- Bonfire Night (until 12am)
- New Year's Eve (1am)
- Diwali (1am)
- Chinese New Year (1am)
*Outside of these dates, you'll need to find a shop with a special licence.
Right, well I don't have a garden, so...
There are always category 1 (indoor) fireworks. OK, the Swords of Fire essentially look like two burning matches, and the Slithering Servants are frankly flaming turd-esque. But they're a good laugh. And you can put on a video of London's 2019 NYE fireworks in the background.
This is not a comprehensive guide to letting off fireworks. For more info visit London Fire Brigade.