Ely Fireworks - Back With A Bang In 2011!
By elypeople | Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 10:16
The annual Ely fireworks display will return with a bang in 2011, lighting up the skies of East Cambridgeshire. This year the city celebrates bonfire night on Saturday November 12 and rarely have the actions of Guy Fawkes and his failed 'Gunpowder Plot' been marked in such a beautiful setting.
Ely Fireworks Display lights up the Cathedral. Picture by Philip Laver
Ely Fireworks over the Octagon of the Cathedral
There can be few pyrotechnic spectaculars in Britain that can claim to be more dramatic that the one staged each year in Ely's Cherry Hill Park. With the famous Ely Cathedral as its backdrop, it is a thrilling show of colour and noise for all of the family.
"There is no finer location for a firework display in the country," says Des Matthewson, a member of the organising committee. "Ely Park is a natural auditorium which allows great views of the fireworks. The backdrop of the Cathedral, with the illuminated Octagon, is breathtaking. When the smoke drifts across the field there is a mystical feel about the park and I don't believe this can be replicated elsewhere."
Fireworks In Ely Since 1974
One of the most exciting events to be held annually in the city, the display has been a fixture in the Ely calendar since members of Ely & District Round Table first staged it in 1974. "There was no organised firework display in the city before the Round Table established the event," says Matthewson. "It came about following a number of incidents involving injuries to children using fireworks. Round Table members decided to put on a display and canvassed the shops in Ely that at that time sold fireworks – they were asked if they would stop selling them in return for a display."
The Round Table organised the event for many years but after the local branch was wound up in April 2008, former members created a new charitable company to continue running the display.
"The event is now run by Ely XT," explains Matthewson. "Essentially there was an age rule within the Round Table and you had to be under 45 but we were lax in bringing through enough young people to keep the Table going. However, we all wanted to keep together, so we formed Ely XT – the 'XT' stands for 'ex-Tablers' – and we still meet every other Wednesday. Ely XT is a registered charity and we have continued with the principles of Round Table. The event is very friendly and all our helpers are volunteers. We also have support from the organisations we have helped during the year, which adds to the community feel. It is very much a family atmosphere."
The Great Ely Fireworks Mystery
One of the great mysteries associated with the Ely fireworks display is that the event is rarely staged on the nearest Saturday to Guy Fawkes Night, a scheduling anomaly that is often erroneously attributed to a clash with events in the Cathedral. However, the explanation is far more straightforward.
"The display is set off by Battle Fireworks, who are a Bonfire society in Sussex," says Matthewson. "They are a key players in the Battle village procession and display and therefore they are unavailable on the Saturday nearest to November 5th. They always come to us afterwards and we are happy with this, as the quality of their display is always excellent. They are a not-for-profit organisation so we get excellent value for money and we have successfully worked together for the last ten years.
"Every year they come up with a different display, so rest assured it will be different from last year," he adds. "The format has worked well over the last few years so we are comfortable with how the evening runs and the small funfair will again be there. Last year we started the event 30 minutes earlier, which was generally well received and this earlier start time continues this year."
Ely Fireworks Raising Money For Charity
The profits from the events are all ploughed back into local community, although Ely XT does not decide in advance which causes and charities the money will benefit. They deal with requests throughout the year and many local organisations are recipients. They also run a competition for local schools, one that amounts to far for than just 'a penny for the guy'. They give £50 to any school that makes and enters a 'Guy Fawkes', with the incentive increasing to £150 for the 'Guy' judged to be the best.
What Ely TX fear the most each year is bad weather, but attendance has rarely been affected. "Surprisingly we have only had two seriously wet nights in the last 25 years and even then we managed to raise a little money for the local community," says Matthewson. "The people of Ely are fairly resilient to the wind and rain!"
This year Ely fireworks display is staged on Saturday November 12 in Ely Park. Gates open at 5.30pm, with the bonfire being lit at 6.15pm and the fireworks being set off at 6.45pm. Tickets are available from Specsavers, Ely Tourist Board, the Ely Weekly News office and the David Baldock Dental Surgery. They are also available from Lloyds TSB in Soham. Tickets are priced at £3.00 for an adult and £1.50 for a child. You can also buy tickets on the gate at £4.00 for an adult and £2.00 for a child.
Other Fireworks Displays In The Area… Haddenham, Wilburton, Little Downham