Why is the Bonfire & Fireworks ticketed?
Winchester Round Table has been proud to run the city’s biggest and best bonfire and fireworks.
We do it purely on a voluntary basis for two reasons:
Firstly, to give a truly spectacular night for everyone in Winchester to enjoy.
The other reason is because Winchester Round Table is a charity organisation. We raise money for local good causes, and Bonfire & Fireworks night is the single biggest event we put on to raise this money.
History of Bonfire & Fireworks
The Bonfire & Fireworks has been running for 65 years and was previously hosted at Oram’s Arbour. It was a free event, where anyone could come and enjoy the display either on the green or from a distance. We relied completely on people donating on the night, giving us their loose change before and after the display took place.
So why did it change from being an open, and free-of-charge event to the display you can enjoy today?
We can’t emphasise this enough, but running the Bonfire & Fireworks is an enormous job. The planning for next year’s event starts almost immediately after the end of the previous year’s event.
There are lots of costs we need to cover: we need to pay contractors such as site security, hire of equipments such as lighting, generators, portaloos, catering and so many more. Eventually, the cost of paying for all these things just didn’t match the donations we received on the night.
In 2013 we switched to an all-ticket event to ensure the future running of the bonfire and to give us a better chance to at least break even on our running costs so that we could pass the remainder to local charities.
The increase in cost of living lately has increased our overheads significantly, so we depend upon ticket sales now more than ever.
We are immensely proud to put on a bonfire and fireworks where everyone’s safety is top priority. This means lighting a controlled bonfire and putting on a professional firework display from a safe distance; working with such a large fire and explosives needs proper safety measures in place.
But it also means making sure that we can safely manage a crowd of thousands of spectators who come to North Walls to see the display.
Oram’s Arbour, a sloped open field surrounded by narrow roads, wasn’t the right venue for staging a display that had become increasingly popular in the 1990s. This is why North Walls Recreation Ground, with wide open spaces and easy entrance/exits, is now the location for our ticketed displays.
We still need to make sure we stick to a set capacity, though. Having a wristband ticketing system ensures we know exactly how many people are coming to watch the display, with site security checking wristbands at the gate. If we reach capacity, tickets are taken off sale.
We hope you can enjoy this year’s bonfire and remember that your ticket purchases go a long way to delivering Bonfire & Fireworks.