Stillington Bonfire and Fireworks

Held each year in celebration of this infamous former resident of York, Stillington bonfire has been organised and run by residents for more than 30 years. The event is widely recognised to be one of the best organised public bonfires in the area. The whole process starts early in the Autumn, when the organising committee gather to plan the event, and on the day, there is an organised collection of combustible material from around the village. Building the fire and setting up the field sees a hive of activity throughout the village. The evening commences with a torch-lit procession from the Village Hall to the bonfire, headed by the Guy and the sound of marching music. The fire is lit, the food is served and a spectacular display of fireworks rounds off a wonderful day, weather gods permitting. New residents are most welcome to come and join in any aspect of this most enjoyable event.

Contact: Andy Hart on 01347 810598 or Graham Cookman on 01347 810047 or Steve Gall on 01347 810374

Stillington Bonfire 2022 – Saturday 5th November

This year’s bonfire will go ahead unless it is prevented by new restrictions due to Covid, which are currently not expected. The torchlight procession leaves the Village Hall at 6.45pm. For safety reasons, an approved traffic management company will close the High Street and York Road to traffic between 6.45 and 7.15pm. The bonfire will be lit when the procession reaches the field. Fireworks commence at 7.30pm.

Hot Food and drinks will available again this year. Boots or wellies are recommended footwear. Please note that for safety reasons, private fireworks and sparklers are not allowed on the field.

Entry is free for children, school age and below. Adults £5 on the night, £4 for advance tickets. Available at the post office.

Tractors will collect material suitable for burning from around the village between 9am and noon on the day of the bonfire. If you have a large amount of material, please call Andy on 810598 so we can consider collecting it early. Please note we will not take mattresses or plastics. Please help! To help with the field setup or rubbish collection, please come to the bonfire field or the Village Hall at 9am on the day.

To help as stewards during the event, please call Graham Cookman on 810047 or Andy Hart on 810598

2022 Bonfire Saturday November 5
Big Bonfire      Hot Food    Music     Great Fireworks

5.45pm  Gates Open
6.45pm  Procession leaves Village Hall
            Bonfire lit when procession arrives at field.
7.30pm  Fireworks Start

Car Parking - please enter from York Road before 6.45pm
Please note that York Road will be closed to traffic
between 6.45pm and 7.15pm for the procession

Tickets (available in advance from Stillington Post Office from Monday 18 October):
Adults £4
Children (school age and below) are free - tickets not required

Admission on the night:
Adults £5 (CASH ONLY)
Children of school age and below are free

Car Parking and admission on the night:
Free Parking
Adults £5 (CASH ONLY)
All children of school age or below are free


2017 - Stillington News Report

I walked past the bonfire field towards the end of October and saw that there were still potatoes to be lifted.  This is going to be interesting, I thought.  The wet weather didn't help and when I arrived to help with preparations on the day, the field seemed to me to be something of a quagmire.  The more experienced "veterans" of bonfire preparations were more relaxed and the general consensus was that it would be alright, although there was a little bit of discussion about how we would manage to remove cars from the parking area if they became bogged down.   In the event, there was absolutely no problem . 

Last year, I had thought that the bonfire and firework display were excellent.  Could this year's event match it,  particularly, when I had heard about the rising cost of fireworks and the increase in the cost of insurance.  I really should be more optimistic because it was brilliant; even better than last year in the opinion of quite a few people.  The parade led by the ageing Land Rover was even longer than last year;  the bonfire was enormous and when it was lit, it gave off a tremendous heat and must have been visible from miles around; the firework display was spectacular and made even better because of the way it seemed to frame the Hunter's Moon; and the excellent food was all consumed so that in the event only drops of tea and coffee were left.

Of course, none of it could have taken place without the work of a small army of volunteers who made sure that the thousands who turned up on the night could watch it in safety.   Enormous thanks need to go out to all those who helped in whatever way.   In particular, however, we should thank the farmers who co-operated with and supported the bonfire preparations by making the field available and then, amongst many other things, by providing the equipment necessary to collect material from the village and to build the bonfire with the expert use of a high loader.

So, we can now look forward to next year's bonfire.  But, what will lead the parade as the Land Rover is retired and will the bonfire be bigger and the fireworks even better?    The answers will again depend in large part on the volunteers.  Why don't you keep an eye out for announcements in next year's Stillington News about how to become involved as I can assure you that, if you do volunteer, you will thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. 

Dick Tregea 

2016 - Stillington News Report

Stillington Bonfire - A Newcomer's view

The bonfire coincided with us having lived in Stillington for exactly 6 months, a period during which we have been made most welcome by so many locals.  I had heard a great deal about previous years' bonfires and fireworks displays but wasn't really sure what to expect.  But having seen the bonfire grow in size over the preceding weeks, I was expecting great things.  I wasn't disappointed.

In fact, the bonfire and fireworks were everything you could ask for.  The fire was massive and the heat intense - something which was much needed on such a cold night - and the fireworks display was noisy and spectacular.  But what impressed me most was the involvement of so many people: from the committee members who organised the event so that it took place safely and without any hiccups; to the very many volunteers who worked so hard to make the event a success; to the hundreds who took part in or watched the torchlight procession through the village; and to the thousand or so who turned up to enjoy a great evening.

I thought the bonfire was big when I walked past it through the woods early in November but could not believe how it grew so quickly in the last couple of days.  The amount of combustible material - from unwanted furniture to garden cuttings, including some fair sized trees, fencing and even an old dog kennel and a rabbit hutch - that was collected on the Friday and Saturday was amazing and the two tractors and trailers had to make repeated trips to take the material to the fire.  I enjoyed joining with those volunteers who helped load the trailers and we were all well rewarded by an unexpected break for coffee, scones and cupcakes - very many thanks.

On the night, the forecast rain kept off and so it was with a clear starry night that we all enjoyed the event.  afterwards all I could hear as people drifted away were positive comments about the fireworks ("really brilliant" and "even better than last year"), about the food - the baked potatoes seemed to have gone down particularly well - and about the general organisation with access and parking made so easy.

And when it was all over, the volunteers cracked on with dismantling the tent and other equipment in another display of just getting on with a job that needed doing .  In the morning there was very little evidence that such a big event had taken place.  The fire was still burning but there was remarkably little litter and just a few signs that needed to be removed.

So, it is a very big thank you to everybody involved.  I thoroughly enjoyed Stillington Bonfire and Fireworks 2016 and look forward to another successful event next year.

Dick Tregea


2015 - Stillington News Report

My second experience of Stillington Fireworks Display confirmed what I already knew after my first visit; this is the best bonfire and fireworks display I’ve been to in years, if not ever!

I’m currently living in London, where the congestion and urban setting mean you have to try quite hard to ‘enjoy’ the experience, whilst fighting for your square foot of space and trying not to think about how much it cost. There aren’t many places that are still running great community bonfire nights, and I love coming up to Stillington to get involved.

Rumour has it that this year was at least one person’s 20th anniversary helping out, and the continued success of the night is largely due to the hard work of the committee and the volunteers that give up their time, energy and resources to make it happen.

I’ve enjoyed “getting my hands dirty” with the guys on the Saturday morning, loading up the trailers with garden waste and contributions of varying types of furniture, and so far consistently in torrential rain. It looked like a local shop did fairly well in gardening glove sales that weekend.

“t’s great to see everybody standing outside the pubs, looking out of their windows and poking their heads out of the front door as the procession goes by; there’s a rare sense of community in Stillington. The fireworks themselves were well worth the wait, accompanied by a reassuring series of “oohs” and “aahs”. And to top it all off, there was a fine selection of food again this year with the new addition of a beef stew which went down a treat. Looking forward to next year!

2015 - Report from Great Yarmouth Mercury

Put family back in community

On Saturday evening I watched fireworks in Stillington, a few miles north of York, such a wonderful occasion which brought back memories of Bradwell some 40-odd years ago. Stillington, a small Yorkshire village, has for over 30 years organised a bonfire night and fireworks display to match the "big boys".

This was preceded by a torch- lit procession from the village hall headed by the guy and accompanied by marching music through the main street to a field some half a mile away and I with family and friends joined this at The White Bear Inn to soak in a glorious occasion. The fact that the field was wet and boggy didn't matter. The baked .potatoes and hot soup were good, the fire was immense and piled high, and the continuous firework display brilliant. A really well organised affair by the village volunteers.

Which brings me back to Bradwell in the 1970s when the guy was loaded on a wagon at the community centre and dragged through the village ahead of an entourage' of villagers, past the church to a site within the grounds of St Nicholas House where a huge bonfire awaited its notorious effigy. Where has it all-gone? Where O where is the enthusiasm to get involved with activities within Bradwell?

In those day there were three-day festivals, fetes, stage shows, cycle events and treasure hunts. They were fun to volunteer for and organise. The Queen's Silver Jubilee was an occasion to remember with 30-odd village organisations getting together for a great weekend of activity: For the Queen's Golden Jubilee there was zilch!

It is so sad the village has grown so large it is no longer a "family". It may be wishful thinking but perhaps someday soon, somebody will come along to enthuse the community into putting life back into Bradwell once more.





Pictures from the 2014 firework display


2014 - Stillington News Report

I had watched the pile of wood grow steadily in the weeks leading up to 8th November, the day of this year’s village bonfire. As the date approached, I found myself taking a greater than usual interest in the weather forecasts, hoping that this autumn’s unseasonably warm, dry weather would continue, at least until the bonfire had died down, the food tent taken down, and everything packed away ready for next year.

But it wasn’t to be: it rained heavily on the Friday and the forecast didn’t look good. So, when I turned up on the Saturday morning to help collect wood and the drizzle arrived, it looked likely that we were heading for a damp, muddy evening. It was possible that the bonfire might even have to be cancelled. At the very least we expected the car park to become a quagmire and that cars might have to be turned away.

Nevertheless, we got stuck into collecting the old furniture, scrap wood and other material which had been left out for us around the village, hoping that we’d be watching it burn brightly in a few hours’ time. Meanwhile, an extra bale of straw was spread at the entrance to the field and in kitchens throughout the village potatoes were scrubbed ready to be put in the oven.

In the end we needn’t have worried: the rain stopped in the late afternoon and by the time the procession set off from the village hall the weather was almost perfect. Already a good size even before the morning’s wood collection, the bonfire was now huge. Soon it was blazing, surrounded by a crowd which included a large number of excited children.

The sight reminded me of the anticipation felt as a child when Bonfire Night approached.

At 7.30 precisely all eyes turned skywards as the first fireworks exploded in a shower of multicoloured sparks and the evocative smell of gunpowder began to mix with that of smoke and damp grass. Thanks to the careful preparations and precise timing of the team of firework lighters, the display was magnificent and held everyone’s attention throughout, earning a well earned round of applause after the last sparks died away.

As a relative newcomer to Stillington, I was reminded again why the village is such a great place to live: it is still a community where throughout the year people work together to make things happen and bring its members together. A small army of people contribute to the bonfire: the committee which plans the event; the team which sets up the field; the car park attendants; the firework lighters; the local farmers who provide the field and the tractors and trailers to collect wood; and those who prepare and serve the delicious baked potatoes and soup without which (for many, including me) the occasion would not be complete.

So thank you to all who contributed to another enjoyable village event, and to those who supported it by attending. Let’s hope that this support continues and the village bonfire remains a key event on our calendar for years to come.

John Butcher


2013 - Stillington News Report

Remember, remember: the 2nd of November

Weeks in the planning, days in the construction, the final hours approached as the evening of the 2nd grew dark. Promise of a glorious bonfire with guy atop, baked potatoes and soup to ward off the chill, and a sky alight with fire and sparkle. But wait, what’s this? Evening approaches early today! And then, with the final countdown to the bonfire procession ticking by, the heavens opened in a tribute fit for King Lear himself “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!” For a short while, all involved await with bated breath. To venture out would mean a soaking to the skin. Children and adults alike peer from windows at the tumultuous storm, cars pull over as the downpour rendered even driving a blind experience. Then, as quickly as it started, the storm dissipates.

As the time draws towards 7.00, the fireworks are primed, soup is bubbling, and the organ strikes a tune to celebrate its release from a muddy field 10 minutes earlier. At the far end of the village, the procession is gathering. Torches ablaze, they wind their way towards the waiting bonfire, soaked but eager to fulfil its purpose. At 19.30 the sky lights up with military precision, this year sees the promotion to ‘firework lighter’ for select individuals eager to fulfil childhood ambitions. And they are very excited. Flashes of light streak across the sky from exploding rockets, with crashing booms shaking all around. Roman candles sparkle and crackle as people cheer and peer up into the night sky, trying not to burn fingers on hot soup and potatoes. As the display culminates in a ferocious burst of light and sky explosions, peace returns and only the roar of the bonfire can be heard as the village moves contentedly on to home and pub.

A success for all concerned and a huge thank you from the whole village to everyone who participated in making it such a memorable evening. You are all what makes Stillington a special place to be, and long may it be so.

Andrew Grant