Visiting societies

2023 Procession order and information for visiting societies

This draft information is provisional and under change dduring the w/c 18/9/2023

We are not sure all the invited societies are coming yet.  Please do!

If you have any problems with email communications from us this year then please email 

The draft procession order follows, and the procession map is at the end of this page (or if you prefer is also available as a Procession PDF download) this is from 2022 and may yet be updated

We are part of a long tradition of Bonfire in Hastings and East Sussex.  We are proud of this heritage and strive to maintain high standards.  To this end we have definite expectations of our members and visitors.


Parking for coaches is in Falaise Road. Some car parks opening times are limited by the event. Further information is at


Our headquarters is the White Rock Hotel and there will be a temporary bar area set up inside which is available to all societies and groups.  Various loos are available there.


·       Only members of this Society or members of other recognised societies officially invited, in writing by the Society, may walk with us. All members must be in one of the Society’s official recognised costumes. If you feel your society may have missed a communication from HBBS then please email and we can check/apologise! We seem to have some comms problems this year.

·       Do not invite non-members (friends, family or children) to join in the procession. We are not responsible for people marching with us who are not members of the Society and they will be asked to leave the procession as they will be at risk. Visiting societies that recognise child members are most welcome. You attend under both your own rules and under HBBS rules, e.g. torches are allowed to be carried on our procession for 10-year olds and over subject to parental guidance and control – please select light-weight torches for your children

·       Whenever in a procession with the Society, we walk in orderly ranks of three (one on each side of the road and one in the middle).  This presents the Society at its best, and allows space for easy movement of marshals, torch runners, and other officials.

·       We keep a torch-and-arm-length distance from the person in front of us and next to us. Be aware of those in front of you as sometimes a procession may suddenly halt.

·       Officers and marshals will organise the forming of ranks in the procession, and maintain them throughout.  If you ignore the instructions of a marshal you may be asked to leave the procession.

Society marshals

Your society’s marshals need to be clearly identified e.g. by a fluorescent armband, or badge (available from our HQ)

Torches (main procession)

Ours are traditional hessian torches and, if cared for, will last for the duration of the procession.  If the flame begins to die out just tap on the road to open up the hessian and it should relight. Please do not swing them about or drop them near or under vehicles or spectators.

Flaming torches are an important and spectacular part of the procession.  Torches are available at the beginning and specified points during the procession.

·       Your torch should be kept with you, and not handed on to anybody else.  Under no circumstances must torches be given to members of the public.

·       Only light up when instructed to do so.

·       Once you have a lighted torch use it until it is spent.

·       When a torch is spent or becoming dangerous discard it in the gutter for collection.

·       Discard torches away from large numbers of spectators and parked cars.

·       Avoid making mini bonfires

·       Torches should be held upright above head height in front of you and to one side or other of your face (as the wind blows) and please be aware of distances from those down-wind from you.  Unlit torches are carried downwards. Torches must not be put over shoulders or held out at angles. Be especially careful that there is a safe distance from your lit torch and members of the public. Torches must not be swung around, carried or moved about in such a way that they can cause damage to other members, spectators or buildings.

·       Take care with torches near Society banners.

·      Do not kick or play games with any lit torches or torch heads that are on the ground where there are ANY members of the public. Any torch or torch head that might cause a trip hazard should be carefully moved to a safe place such as the edge of the road with a boot.

·      Hastings Borough Bonfire Society endorses the Sussex Bonfire Council recommendation that children under ten years of age should not use torches however at our bonfire we accept children of 10 years and older carrying torches subject to parental judgement that the particular child is suitable to carry a torch and that the parent constantly supervises their child in the procession.  Society officials will not issue torches to such children as the parents must hold that torch ownership for their children.

·   Under no circumstances must anybody go ANYWHERE near the net sheds or the Cyril and Lilian Bishop with a torch, whether lighted or not!  Offenders will be dealt with promptly.

·     At the end of the procession we throw our torches onto the fire together.  Do not throw your torch onto the fire until signaled to do so,  as we like to say the Bonfire Chant together before we all light the bonfire.

·     Please avoid throwing your torch over the bonfire as (a) it will not light the bonfire, and (b) it may hit someone from another society on the other side of the bonfire.  Just don’t be silly please.  This is H&S and it is important.

Child members and torches

Children who are members of our (or your) society may now carry torches from the age of 10 and upwards at the discretion of their parents.  Parents need to make an assessment of their child / children’s physical and mental capacity to carry a torch in a responsible and safe manner and take responsibility for supervising them in any torch carrying they allow.

Please note: It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure their child’s safety, and the safety of those around them

Torch lighting

Torches are lit by HBBS Assembly Crew when in Robertson Street (not as in recent years at the approach to the entrance to Robertson Street but a little later this year)

Banner re-torching

Banners will be re-torched at the Stade, west of Eat@the stade café, Old Town.

Having processed up All Saints Street and down the High Street, the procession will pass round Winkle Island, so re-torching at the Stade will be convenient.


      The discharge of fireworks in a public place is a criminal offence.

      The Society cannot be held responsible for any arrest, prosecution or any insurance or similar claim against any member who chooses to use fireworks incorrectly or illegally.

      The Society does not accept the throwing or misuse of fireworks in any circumstances.

      All projectiles are banned except as part of an organised display.

      Members of Hastings Borough Bonfire Society are not insured to throw ‘bangers’ or ‘rookies’. Many societies ban them though some societies allow these in designated private firework areas. Any HBBS member throwing ‘rookies’ / ‘bangers’ will be personally liable for any accident or insurance claim that may arise from their actions. The Sussex Bonfire Council do not permit any “bangers” larger than a “rookie”, Spanish number two, or small Chinese.

Handheld flares

Parachute flares are banned from the event. In date Category 1 flares are permitted. Please use responsibly and safely.

Pushchairs or disability

Pushchairs are permitted, at parental discretion so long as they are well away from the fire carts and cracker points. Please keep young children away from any burning torches, sparks smokes and ensure they have safety protection.  Pushchairs cannot be taken onto the beach but must stay on the paved area.

Wheelchairs, members with limited mobility should assess the risk to themselves before joining the procession. There is a designated area which is wheelchair accessible near Pelham Place toilets.

Bands, Drummers and Dancers

Any bands or dancers in the procession are there at the request of the Society to make our event more colourful and interesting for the public.  Musical instruments and uniforms are expensive.

      Do not scorch uniforms or instruments.

      Do not pass too close to bands, or pass through their ranks.

      Society members found harassing bands will be asked to leave the procession and will be subject to discipline by the Society.

Fire-site safety

      Nobody is to enter the fire site at any time without the express permission of the Captain of the Fire Site [Liz].

      The firework area is a completely restricted area with no access.  Please don’t use it as a cut-through, as it wastes pyro team time chasing people away from the explosives.  Only authorised personnel enter, with the permission of the Captain of Fireworks (Renegade Pyrotechnics).

      STAY AWAY from any of the display fireworks, set pieces or effigy which will be protected by barriers / orange fencing.

      Do not climb over, cross, break down or open up any barriers or fencing.

      After the main event the bonfire is barriered off and only members of the Society may gain access. Do not invite non-members into the restricted area.

First Aid

Trained first aiders (St John Ambulance) will be in attendance along with marshals and members of the emergency services who should be made aware if you require medical attention. 

The Tri-arg medical centre is located at the west end of George Street.

Emergency Services

The emergency services are there to help us put on a safe and well organised event as well as to protect us and members of the public.  The directions of the emergency services must be followed, even if this deviates from our original plans.  It is the job of the officers of the Society to liaise with all the emergency services and make any decisions that need to be made. Please comply with these decisions/directions.

Entry onto beach fire-site

Once at the bonfire the official lighting ceremony and The Bonfire Chant / Prayers come first.  Wait for these to take place before throwing your torch on to the bonfire.

We hope you enjoy our event and have a great bonfire season.

Public Liability Insurance

Here is a link to our public liability insurance certificate covering all our entities (Hastings Borough Bonfire Society Ltd and Hastings Bonfire Trust and Renegade Pyrotechnics Ltd)

Safety - bonfire, ambulance/first aid/exits

Our bonfire will be built from softwood and as such will get very hot especially if there is a sea breeze.

St. John Ambulance first aid point will be at the western end of George Street.

No glass is allowed on the fire-site or in the procession.

There will be marked exit routes from the fire-site to use; safely avoiding the firework area and members of the public. See enclosed fire-site plan.

Procession route

This year the procession route does not light up torches until a little later in Robertson Street, and we loop round Winkle Island for a re-torching like we did last year.