Can I set off fireworks in my garden? Law explained for Bonfire Night display

Bonfire Night is an annual tradition commemorating the failure of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot, where a group of Catholic plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London back on November 5, 1605.

Since then November 5 has been marked as a day of thanksgiving for the fact that lives of many including King James was spared on the day.

The commemoration makes use of bonfires and fireworks as part of the celebration, with several displays taking place around the country.

With Bonfire Night set to take place this Saturday, here are the rules around setting off fireworks on your own.

Can I set off fireworks in my garden?
Yes, by law you are allowed to set off fireworks in your back garden. However, there are some rules you need to be aware of.

Typically, you must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am. There are some exceptions to this rule, including New Year’s Eve, Diwali, Chinese New Year as well as Bonfire Night when the cut off time is midnight instead.

Can I set off fireworks in my local park?
It is against the law to set off or throw fireworks in a public place. This includes the streets and any public spaces such as parks or woodland areas.

Those found breaking this law can face fines of up to £5,000 or even six months of imprisonment. On the spot fines of £90 may also be issued.

Fireworks can be used on the street or in a public place only as part of an organised event by licensed professionals.

Can I buy fireworks?
Members of the public are only allowed to buy fireworks at certain times of the year. The dates for buying fireworks for private use from registered sellers are:

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 31 December
  • three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At other times you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops.

Who can use fireworks?
Here’s who can use fireworks according to The Fireworks Regulations 2004 and The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015:

  • anyone over 18 can buy, carry or use category one, two and three fireworks
  • anyone over 16 can only buy, carry or use category one fireworks
  • anyone over 12 can buy Christmas crackers
  • only licensed professionals can buy, carry and use category 4 fireworks

Do I have to tell my neighbours if I am setting off fireworks?
There are no specific laws that you legally have to let anyone know about plans to set off fireworks.

However, it would be courteous to inform people who live near you of your plans – just so they know to expect it and plan ahead in case they aren’t fond of fireworks.

This will also be particularly helpful for those who have pets, many of which get scared of fireworks.