Waterloo Bonfire Society will charge an admission fee of £3 to their firework display and bonfire site at Malling Brooks at this year’s Lewes Bonfire on Wednesday, November 5.
The Society hosts the largest and most popular fireworks site in Lewes and has been based on Malling Brooks for 27 years without previously charging an admission fee.
But rising costs of securing the site and meeting health and safety obligations have now forced the Society to levy an admission fee.
This year Waterloo celebrates its 50th anniversary and the Society says the fee allows it to continue to put on the fantastic display for which it has become rightly famous.
The site will be completely fenced off and to enter, spectators will need to purchase a wrist-band which will be sold from 5pm on the night at numerous clearly marked points around the perimeter. Entrances, controlled by SIA security staff, will be at Malling Club, the Brooks Road roundabout and at the river path and car park at Tesco. There will be a wrist-band sales tent in Tesco’s car park as well as sellers at all the entrances so spectators should have no difficulty in buying a wrist-band and getting onto the site quickly and easily.
Society chairman Paul Slot said: “This is obviously a big decision but one that we have considered very carefully. We have a large, central firesite which is very popular as we are renowned for the quality of our firework display, bonfire, tableau and effigies. We have an increasing number of spectators on the site each year and the costs associated with that have grown significantly. We want to ensure all visitors to our site not only experience a fantastic display but are also safe and we meet all our safety obligations. As with all Lewes Societies we are entirely self-funded and rely solely on the generosity of local businesses and individuals and the hard fund-raising work carried on all year by our members.
“This year’s display promises to be the best ever as we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary and at £3 we have kept the admission fee as low as possible.
“We are not looking to make a profit but simply to cover our costs of putting on the show. We very much hope that spectators will continue to support us and will understand why we have had to take this action.”
Waterloo is famous for the variety and colour of its costumes, ranging from Mongolians to Tudors.