Last weekend brought with it November: which meant gusty gales, colder days and darker nights. The first weekend also meant the Bonfire Festival in Southport – which is a charity event held annually – celebrating Guy Fawkes night (also known as bonfire night here in the UK).
The night: hosted by the Southport and Hesketh Round Table, who donate all proceeds towards the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young: is held at Southport’s central public park, called Victoria Park. The Bonfire Festival hosts a generous variation of stalls and stands selling hot drinks and food to fairground games and everything in between. There’s a huge bonfire in the middle of the park, and a beautiful fireworks display that light up the night too! Also, all the old fairground rides from Southport’s past are resurrected for the night: from our old favourites to the quirky and even downright bizarre.
One of the most-loved rides at the event, which always has a really long queue, is Pleasure Land’s old Ghost Train. I actually have a piece of old town trivia about this train, too: (please excuse my full-on Taylor Doose moment) back in 1930, when Blackpool unveiled the world’s first Ghost Train (thanks for changing the world, Joseph Emberton!) at Pleasure Beach, Southport’s Pleasure Land was among one of the first theme parks to follow in Blackpool’s dark footsteps: creating their own Ghost Train, which is what you can see me and Katy sat in here! 85 years later and it still works: just waiting in the wings for the annual Bonfire Festival to make it’s appearance!
Spoooooky Ghost Train lighting.. (Side note: I took a really cool photo of Clare staring scared-ly(?) at a model of Freddy Kreuger being hung from the top of the Ghost Train, but it was on a roll of film that didn’t develop at all due to my own error, but that’s part and parcel of using 35mm film I suppose! More on that in general further down.)
Just before we rode the train it broke down, and even when we were on it the ride came to an almost-worrying faltering stop on the second story, just as we rounded an exposed corner over the crowd of queuers below! (Though that’s what you sign up for when riding an 85 year old ghost train I suppose!)
There was an absolutely insane ride at the event this year called the Meteorite: which basically used g-force to hold people suspended to the sides of the ride as it spins at extreme speeds before lifting, turning and twirling them upside down too! Just the look of the ride made my knees feel funny and my stomach weak: ever since overdoing it on the pirate ship and teacups when I was much younger with Katy (which lead to an awful vomiting experience ON the ride and off!) I’ve been knocked straight off rides that spin and twirl you. Before moving on, though, Scott piped out an “I’ll go on it!” and actually DID. And not just that, he did it: all. Alone. Absolutely mental.
Unfortunately, as expected for an event held in November, the weather was extremely unreliable and spent the majority of the week leading up to the night in thunderous rainstorms that soaked the park through: but didn’t dampen our spirits or fun – as we just strapped on our wellies (wellington boots for anybody who doesn’t know!) and parkas and headed on over anyway!
The atmosphere at the festival is electric, with people crowding around the giant bonfire to share the warmth and views with the people they love. I think it’s lovely to be in a place where there’s so much love, and just general merriment. I think that’s one of the best things about being in a small town, that there are really intimate events with loads of familiar faces and it’s just really cosy and nice.
It’s also gone a huge distance in throwing me back into using 35mm film. I said in my previous post about how I traditionally shoot with 35mm film at Farmaggedon (though didn’t this year – and hugely regret not doing so!) but following that, I wanted to shoot this event in 35mm film mainly because, from using it in the way I do, I feel like it has a much better aesthetic than a regular DSLR with a flashgun strapped to it’s head: or, a better aesthetic than shooting with one on literally no budget, anyway. I’m sure certain kit could make it look incredible, but if you’re shooting with no budget then I’m saying that I think 35mm film just looks nicer!
Unfortunately I was burned a little by my choice the day after, when I took my 3 rolls down to be developed and only 2 could be done because I’d loaded the first roll incorrectly anyway, but that’s just the price you pay by using this method I suppose. I might do a whole post on 35mm film vs. DSLRs (in my opinion) and what I think their strengths and weaknesses on: right now I’m actually working on a little 35mm film post project for this blog anyway which should be quite fun once I’ve finished the roll and gotten it developed – so I’ll keep you in the know if you’re interested, ha ha!
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and if you have then let me know: do you come from a town where there are events similar to this? How do you celebrate the seasons and certain traditions/festivals? I’d love to know!
From the boy with his celebratory brain strapped on 365 days a year,