Fireworks can only be used after 11 p.m. on:

  Bonfire Night - until Midnight

  Diwali - until 1 a.m.

  New Year's Eve  - until 1 a.m.

  Chinese New Year - until 1 a.m.

There are times every year when it is traditional to celebrate festivals and events with fireworks. It is also increasingly common for them to be used at family celebrations, such as weddings and birthdays.

While this can be great fun for those taking part, it can also be a source of great annoyance to neighbours who are taken by surprise late at night. This is a particular problem for young children and animals, who cannot understand what is happening and can become very alarmed and distressed at loud explosions and other unexpected noises.

Clearly, there has to be compromise and if you are planning to let off fireworks in your garden, it is always a good idea to let your neighbours know so that they can prepare themselves and their animals. Those with young children can plan to watch with them from a window and join in the fun.

It is also important to be aware of the law, since the penalties can be severe.

  • It is a punishable offence for anyone to set off fireworks between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • There are just four occasions when these times are different (see the side panel).
  • You cannot buy or use Category 2 and 3 (also known as Adult) fireworks if you are under eighteen.
  • You must never set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or any other public place.

You can be fined up to £5000 and imprisoned for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You can also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.