I’m old enough to remember the time when bonfire night in York meant only one thing: the epic firework display at Clifford’s Tower. The whole city would gather around, watching in awe as rockets shot from it into the sky and waterfalls of sparks cascaded down it, narrowly missing the crowd. It was quite a sight, but probably a health and safety nightmare, so it’s no wonder it’s no more. Luckily there are some new contenders to offer firework entertainment to the lovely people of York, and the Kaboom Firework Party at Castle Howard is one. We were invited along to see it for ourselves and to let you know if it gets the Little Vikings seal of approval.
First things first: Castle Howard is not exactly handy for town. Our one concern about it was the journey: the A64 can be problematic when it’s busy (and that’s putting it politely). But we needn’t have worried. We set off late on Saturday afternoon and were there within 35 minutes without encountering any traffic at all. Entry into the grounds of Castle Howard was a breeze, and we were ushered into our family parking space (pre-bookable) within a couple of minutes. Simple! The route into the main grounds was easy to navigate with our silly urban buggy and there was no queue to get in.
By the time we arrived, Monsters Inc was playing on the big screen and lots of families and couples had settled down on the lawn with their assorted chairs and picnic blankets to enjoy the film. Refreshment options were plentiful, with everything from gourmet burgers, noodles and stonebaked pizza to tea and cake, mulled wine and lots more on offer. Although the queues got busy as the night wore on, they were manageable (and lots of people had come prepared with their own picnics anyway). After the film we took a stroll around the fairground, lit some sparklers in the dedicated sparkler area and watched the fire jugglers. Our eldest also joined in a brilliant Star Wars Jedi training session that he loved (and has been asking to do again ever since). The setting is spectacular and the atmosphere was warm and friendly, so it was lovely just to spend some time outside as a family without too many distractions.
Minster FM provided the soundtrack to the evening with a live show leading up to a laser display, choreographed to music, and then the fireworks themselves. I’m no firework expert, but they were fantastic. If the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of the crowd mean anything, I think everyone enjoyed it. They were magnificent – even our youngest (just turned two) was so enthralled that she forgot to be scared by the noise. The eldest thought it was spectacular too, and couldn’t quite believe that we’d finally taken him to a proper display (he’s been nagging about it for years). It took us under ten minutes to get back in the car once the display ended, and we were home in less than an hour with three tired but very happy children in the back. The Clifford’s Tower display may be a distant memory, but times change and I’m happy for our family to make firework memories at Kaboom.
For more details on Kaboom, visit their website. You’ve missed it for this year but keep an eye on the Little Vikings website to find out if it will be back for 2017. For more places to see fireworks this year, check out our feature.