Fireworks first for Castle

On top of the Norman keep in Lancaster Castle, are from front: leader of Lancaster City Council coun Eileen Blamire; assistant head of community engagement for Lancaster City Council, Gill Haigh; festival and events officer, Simon Armstrong and representing the Duchy, Alan Box.
On top of the Norman keep in Lancaster Castle, are from front: leader of Lancaster City Council coun Eileen Blamire; assistant head of community engagement for Lancaster City Council, Gill Haigh; festival and events officer, Simon Armstrong and representing the Duchy, Alan Box.

Fireworks will be launched from the roof of Lancaster’s historic Castle for the first time in history.

The new format to the annual display will also mark the beginning of a new phase for the castle as an international tourist destination. Proposals to transform the building into a boutique hotel and other attractions were announced last month.

The news also coincides with the 400 year anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials in 2012 and follows the Olympic Torch celebrations in June.

Crowds of up to 16,000 people are expected to witness the Lancaster Fireworks Spectacular on November 3. The Duchy of Lancaster has given permission for the castle to be the centrepiece of the pyrotechnics, moving the launch from its traditional spot on the nearby Vicarage Fields.

The new location will increase the height of the firework launch by up to 100 feet, meaning that wherever you can see the castle, you will see the fireworks.

Lancaster City Council promises that the event will be “the most spectacular of them all”.

Due to the popularity of last year’s event and problems with people not being able to see the display properly, organisers have introduced a free wristband system for the two official viewing areas closest to the castle at Quay Meadow and Giant Axe.

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, said: “Year–on-year we have seen the Lancaster Firework Spectacular grow in popularity.

“Having been granted permission from the Duchy of Lancaster to launch the extravaganza from the top of Lancaster Castle, this year’s event promises to be the most spectacular of them all.

“The free wristband system will ensure that those people who want to view from these two sites will be able to do so safely and have an enjoyable time, while those who do not will know well in advance that they need to find an alternative viewing area from the many which are available.”

This is the first time the castle itself has been used to stage the event.

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the closure of the prison earlier this year enabled the hosting of such an event.

“This is one of the biggest nights in the city’s calendar and we are delighted that the castle will be playing such an important part in Lancaster’s 2012 fireworks display.

“Previously there was limited access to some parts of the castle which prevented events like this from being held here.

“But, as we start to implement plans to open more of the castle to the public and integrate it more fully it into the life of the city, hopefully this will be the first of many such occasions.”

Although the fireworks will be visible from almost anywhere in the city that can see the castle, there are three additional official viewing areas which do not require passes including Salt Ayre, with a capacity of 2,500, free parking, hot food and drink and Taylor’s Funfair, Millennium Bridge and the cycle path alongside the River Lune and Williamson Park.

The Fireworks Spectacular is part of a weekend of activities in Lancaster, which starts with the Light Up Lancaster event on Friday November 2 - a stroll through the squares and alleyways of Lancaster by night, celebrating its heritage through illuminating performances of music, art and dance.

There will be witches and Guy Fawkes themed activities on Saturday in the city centre, including guided walks and tours, storytelling, arts and crafts and lantern making workshops.

To register for up to six free wristbands, log on to www.lancaster.gov.uk/fireworks.

Alternatively, call 01524 582906. Wristbands will be posted out ahead of the event and issued on a first come first served basis.

The deadline for registration is Wednesday, October 24.