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

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

Friday, January 18, 2013
10.07 AM

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 procurement@norwich.gov.uk

- 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.