WINCHESTER skies were set alight with colour at this year’s annual bonfire night.

An estimated 19,000 people attended the first ticketed-event in its 50-plus year history.

The evening’s events began with the torchlight procession led by a marching band which saw hundreds of people swarm through the streets.

People from right across Hampshire began at Broadway and then headed up the High Street, before beginning their final descent to River Park by the North Walls, bringing a warm glow to the city’s chilly November streets.

The mayor of Winchester, Cllr Ernie Jeffs said: “I think it’s an extremely worthy cause. Last year there were 25,000 people at this event and they raised £30,000 which is magnificent as local charities have difficulty raising money.”

Guy Fawkes received his usual warm greeting when the bonfire was ignited, on Saturday night (November 2), which saw embers billow 40 feet into the air.

Gentle hums of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ echoed throughout the crowd after the popping and banging of each one of the brilliant fireworks rocketed into the air, which included Catherine wheels, blossoms and peonies.

Hannah Wiggins, 23, a business consultant from Bishop’s Waltham, said: “It’s my first bonfire here and I think it’s really good.

The torches have built up a great atmosphere.”

Tom Ellison, 27, travelled from his hometown in New York to visit his friend Dom Harries, 27, from Blue Ball Hill in Winchester in time for the event.

Mr Ellison said: “This would not have been allowed in America, not with so many naked flames about! It’s been really good though, seeing so many people getting involved makes it that much better.”

The controversial decision to sell tickets this year marked a new chapter in the event’s 54-year history which had previously relied upon donations.

Tickets were put on sale at the beginning of last month after safety concerns were raised regarding the capacity of the park.

Organisers, Winchester Round Table, said the 21,500 capacity had previously been well-exceeded leading to an increase in costs.

River Park Leisure Centre was also host to a seventies-themed roller disco earlier in the day which saw scores of children and their parents wrapping up in leg warmers and skating to their hearts content.