Poll - end of an era or good news? Annual Sparks in the Park fireworks display brought to an end and new Norwich Castle show is planned

PUBLISHED: 10:07 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:29 18 January 2013

The Big Bang fireworks at Sparks in the Park at Earlham Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Big Bang fireworks at Sparks in the Park at Earlham Park. Picture: Denise Bradley


It’s been an annual tradition for hundreds of thousands of families and young people but we can today reveal that Norwich’s popular Sparks in the Park bonfire celebration is no more.

Despite attracting 16,000 people to last year’s event, Norwich City Council says the display is no longer financially viable unless they were to increase ticket prices or run it at a loss.

Instead they have decided to switch the show away from Earlham Park and into the city centre.

The new display, with 12 minutes of fireworks launched from Norwich Castle, will be free, with the promise of more public transport and places to park.

The council spent £101,000 putting on last year’s fireworks show in Earlham Park and, after ticket sales, broke even on the event.

Sparks in the Park. Norwich. Sparks in the Park. Norwich.

But council leaders said, having frozen ticket prices for the past three years, the only way to run the event this year would have been to increase ticket prices or the event would have run at a loss.

So, instead, the council has announced it will switch the show away from Earlham Park, which has hosted Sparks In The Park for more than 10 years, and into the city centre.

Council leaders say the display, with 12 minutes of fireworks launched from Norwich Castle, will be free and say it will be easier for families to get to, with more public transport and places to park.

Brenda Arthur, council leader and cabinet member for culture, pictured below, says: “This is good news for local people and city businesses too.

“Bringing a display to the city centre will not only provide a free and therefore affordable event for all, but be an added boost for the early evening economy, as fireworks will bring people into the city who will then use restaurants, pubs and other entertainment venues.”

The council’s annual programme of events is continuously reviewed and council leaders said a review of Sparks In The Park left them little option but to call it a day at Earlham Park, because they were not prepared to put up the ticket prices at a time when money is tight for many families.

Instead, the city centre event will be on Friday, November 8, so it will not clash with other events likely to take place on the Saturday night.

A spokesman said: “Aware of other commercial shows and the many smaller fundraising displays organised in the greater Norwich area, we have specifically chosen to hold the city centre fireworks on a Friday to minimise impact on the Saturday events.

“This will also give families the chance to enjoy the free display and go along to another bonfire night event.”

Sparks In The Park first ran under the name in 2001, but as far back as the 1990s, the council had been involved with fireworks displays at Earlham Park.

A council spokesman said the new city centre display will be funded from existing budgets. And he revealed there could yet be a bonfire celebration at Earlham Park.

He said the council was hoping to rent Earlham Park out to a commercial partner for a traditional bonfire night celebration, which could include a funfair and a bonfire, on a different date.

- Businesses interested in renting Earlham Park for a bonfire night celebration should email

- What do you think of the decision? Will you miss Sparks In The Park or would you prefer a free fireworks display in the city centre? Leave your comments below.

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  • Oh please. I used to live right next to the Anglia Windows club place thing on Cromer Road and had their fireworks every year when I was young. I also had the airport pretty much on top of my house too 365 days a year. When I was even younger, I lived a couple of roads away from St James' Hill where there used to ba a display back in the day. I now live on the LMP's route. Can I petition the council to move the parade route down the A47 so I don't have to put up with people puking and making ungodly amounts of noise outside my flat? I can't believe so many people are whining about ONE NIGHT of entertainment which those who live locally get for free instead of paying £7 something to stand in the cold waiting for pretty flashy lights in the sky for a while. Are you mad because you couldn't see the ground displays or something? How about those who live in the city centre who are going to have to put up with the proposed 12 minutes of fireworks? 12 minutes? Is that even worth it? Seriously? And where's the money coming from to fund that 12 minutes? I have a lot of friends overseas and I've always told them about the great events that Norwich has that pulls us together as a community like Pride, Lord Mayors, N&N Festival, Royal Norfolk Show, Sparks in the Park... I have great memories of all of those events plus more. I'm positive there are plenty of ways to make that event run at a profit, it's just a case of getting it right. Can a private contractor do it? I hope so, I really do as it would be a hell of a shame to lose one of the best events that the city has to offer in exchange for a 12 minute display that is nothing more than a damned annoyance that half the city will turn up their TVs to drown out. Oh and contrary to what "nrg" thinks, it's not just chavs that attend. Weird, I've never seen a self-hating chav before. Stupid idea is stupid. There's plenty of other places the money could be cut and 12 minutes from the Castle isn't worth it. People aren't going to bother turning out for that, free or not.

    Report this comment


    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Your own firework display in your own garden ON November the 5th,thats how it was and in my view preferable !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • About time too.... Why do Norwich City Council believe that most people wish to seehear this atrocity of noise and increase of traffic? The park is still in a mess from the last event that took place in November the grass has not been repaired and there are still tyre ruts across the grass back field total disgrace. The park belongs to ALL the people of Norwich why on earth should NCC have the right to block off the park for some 3 to 4 days denying access to the park itself just to promote some expensive worthless display. About time I say........

    Report this comment


    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • CANCEL all incluing the Lord Mayors Show,and spend the taxpayers money on essential services

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Don't quite understand this. The council want to stop the event in the park because it was running at a loss and intend replacing with a free display in the city? The logic defeats me.

    Report this comment

    Betty Swallocks

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Good, it keeps the many chav like creatures that attend in the city.

    Report this comment


    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Very disappointing relaunch of this article; no reference to whiney Wrighty trying to curry favour with his disillusioned electors. Why the hell can't moneybags Archant sponsor a new event if you are so worried about it, or is that what you are building up to announcing?

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Local authority run firework displays are tricky to run financially, as all staffstewards have to be paid. Sparks in the Park Cardiff, in contrast, is organised by the local Round Table and is able to run (and raise a tidy sum for charity) because the stewards are volunteers, with just a handful of paid council staff. Norwich Council should contact Norwich Round Table and ask them if they would be interested in taking over the event. That's how Cardiff Sparks in the Park started in 1981.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Durham

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • The difference between when you had fireworks and the ones now is that they sound like world war three. We had fireworks in the garden when we were kids but they were all pretty ones with just a whimper as they died out. It would not be right to let the modern day fireworks off in close proximity to neighbours gardens and houses especially if they have animals.

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    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Prices were too high if you were only interested in the fireworks. I'm not interested in the fairground rides, food, 'entertainment' etc. and would have happily chucked a few quid in a bucket while watching from outside the park away from the crowds. But looking at £30 or more for a group of 4, it's not worth it.

    Report this comment


    Friday, January 18, 2013

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