After our rather underwhelming bonfire night last year, we made sure to bag ourselves hot tickets for Sheffield’s newest fireworks event this year, Illuminate the Gardens. Did you manage to get tickets for this sold out event, too? Demand was really high, and each phase of tickets went within hours of release – proof that the city has been wanting a new event to enjoy for years!
We got tickets for the Saturday evening, and on the day, we bundled ourselves up in winter coats, hats and gloves, and joined the excited throngs of people marching down Ecclesall Road to the Botanical Gardens, ready to be entertained. What a beautiful setting and backdrop the gardens provided to this event – stunning!
From the quiet bangs display for the little ones that had my 4 year old and 18 month old completely enthralled, (see short clip below, there definitely are bangs but they are quiet and all of the kids near us LOVED them), to the fire performances on the main lawn, courtesy of Airy Fairy (a little amateur looking to me, but again the kids enjoyed them), and the awesome grand finale ending in the requisite explosive crescendo (which we watched from the back garden after getting the kids home to bed!) this was, in the words of my 9 year old, a spectacular showpiece. We had a great time – a treat for eyes, ears and hungry tummies alike!
Away from the fireworks, the kids corner had plenty to keep the little ones entertained, with face painting, tattoos and crafts from Regather and the British Science Association. The art trail hunt that wove around the beautiful Botanical Gardens let the kids burn off some excited pent up energy, keeping them warm on a chilly evening, and led us to some previously undiscovered little nooks and crannies in the grounds. The traditional fairground rides and old fashioned sweets went down a storm with the kids too. Toffee apples and chocolate honeycomb chunks? Yes please!
If you are heading to the event on Sunday evening, come hungry but be prepared to queue! There’s a fabulous array of food and drink available at the event, championing local independent businesses, including:
This was my first time trying a poutine from The Gravy Train, which is, in their words, a “melty, gooey, belly-warming delight from Quebec” – Gravy, Cheese Curds and Fries. I added peppers, crispy onions, soured cream and mushroom gravy to mine. Seriously good, perfect bonfire night grub, and well worth waiting in line for (I queued for about 15 mins). Get in my belly now!
And because watching fireworks is a thirsty old business, the bar was fully stocked with lagers and ales from Stancill, Kelham Island and Bradfield breweries. Mr D’Arcy’s Drinks Emporium had festive mulled wines and ciders and everybody’s favourite Bailey’s hot chocolate for sale, along with a special bonfire cocktail, with Coffika offering coffees, teas and cakes galore. Something for everybody, and then some.
If you are heading to the event on Sunday, be aware that parking nearby is pretty impossible, but plan ahead, walk or jump a bus up Ecclesall Road, get there early and make the most of what will be a fun evening. Sure, you’ll definitely queue to get into the gardens, then queue for food and drinks, but the queues we were in moved fairly quickly, and are surely to be expected with an event this busy.
A few things that could be improved:
- More staff at all the checkpoints would make getting in, getting tickets checked etc much quicker.
- There are wristbands for kids (great idea) but there only seemed to be 2 pens to write your details on the wristbands, meaning another queue – lots more pens please!
- Yes it’s dark there, but it’s Bonfire night, surely it is meant to be dark?! Some additional lighting in certain areas, especially around the food and drink vendors wouldn’t hurt.
- More food vendors next year please – they were all working flat out but there were just too many people wanting to eat and drink meaning long queues in places.
If you missed out on tickets this year, be sure to join the mailing list to get advance notice of next year’s tickets going on sale – it’s sure to be a sell out once again!