The annual celebration of Guy Fawkes’ foiled gunpowder plot is a firm family favourite! Crowd pleasing whizzes and bangs jet across the night sky, illuminating happy faces with brightly coloured displays. Kids sit proudly on top of dad’s shoulders to get closer to the action, and effigies are singed by bonfire flames. Whether you’re 5 or 55, the magical sight of all that sparkle never gets old! The UK aren’t the only ones to enjoy a perfectly executed pyrotechnic party though. Fireworks have been astounding audiences across the globe for centuries. So if once a year (or twice if you count New Year’s Eve) isn’t quite cutting the mustard, here are some other festivals that’ll fill your fireworks fix.
Bastille Day, France
The festivities mark the storming of the Bastille Fortress in Paris, a pivotal point for the French Revolution. Held on 14th July, the day kicks off with a large parade. Passing down the Champs-Élysées from l’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, this is one of the oldest regular military parades in the world. Celebrating French culture and the beginning of Republican Democracy, the day is enjoyed with huge family parties and jaw-dropping firework displays. The most show-stopping of the lot is held in the country’s capital, with the iconic Eiffel Tower as a breathtaking backdrop. Spectacular sparkles fly through the sky as Parisians beam with pride. In true French fashion, the event oozes elegance and world-class entertainment in the form of a classical music concert. A sophisticated soirée if ever there was one.
Although the main party and parades take place in Paris, there’s plenty of celebrations up and down the country. Marseille in the South of France lights up the sky with more than 10,000 rockets! Exploding over the old port on the Mediterranean Sea, it’s a fantastical feast for the eyes. The coastline that already glitters with glitz and glamour has never looked so gorgeous…
Las Fallas, Spain
The fanciful fiestia of Las Fallas hits the streets of Valencia from the 15th-19th July. And boy does it ‘hit’ the streets! If you like peace and quiet, this isn’t the place to be! A wonderful whirlwind of riotous parades, events and fires (yes, you read that right) that make for an unbelievable and unique experience. Rooted in modest beginnings tracing back to the Middle Ages, San José (the patron Saint of carpentry) is the official focus of the festival. Carpenters hung planks of wood in the winter to support their candles while they worked. Once spring arrived they’d burn the wood to celebrate the end of long dark days (apparently winter blues has always been a thing!) Like all the best traditions, things escalated over the years. The wood progressed to figurines that were dressed to impersonate well-known locals, and today, the figurines are known as ‘ninots’. The modern day versions are enormous! Made of papier-mâché, cardboard, wood and plastic – they’re extremely lifelike and depict current events and satiric scenes. All that hard work ends up in flames of course, carrying on those first carpenter’s traditions.
La Nit de Foc
Every day you’ll see processions and hear explosions, and every night a first-class firework display launched from the old river bed. The extraordinary experience culminates in a show-stopping spectacular on La Nit de Foc (The Night of Fire). Expect more fireworks, more gunpowder, more noise… although you’ll be pinching yourself in disbelief that things could possibly get louder! The whole festival has become so notorious among both locals and tourists that it’s managed to land itself on a UNESCO listing for ‘Intangible cultural heritage of humanity’. In fact, Las Fallas is so impressive and outlandish, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the fireworks… and that’s saying something!
Festa del Redentore, Italy
Next up is the theatrical Festa del Redentore! Fresh out of voguish Venice, this celebration combines religion and entertainment flawlessly and falls on the third Sunday of July. The event marks the end of a 16th Century plague which killed almost one third of the total population at the time. Doge Alvise Mocenigo allegedly begged God to end the plague, promising to build a church as thanks. When the plague ended, the new Doge – Sebastiano Venier – honoured this promise and built a temporary wooden church. A new tradition was started the next year and a temporary bridge was installed. This meant people could cross the Giudecca canal on a pilgrimage to reach the church. The wooden church was soon replaced by the Redentore church, and voila! The Festa del Redentore was born.
You’ll be happy to hear the temporary bridge has become a permanent feature – for years made of barges – it’s now a pontoon bridge made of 16 parts. It stretches out at 330m long and stands only a short distance from the water, walking over it gives you unparalleled views of the church itself. Dances and parties are carried out throughout the day, but the floating metropolis is at its most magical when the waterfront celebration gets going. A kaleidoscope of colours spread across the sky for a full 45 minutes. The famous Venetian architecture is the perfect backdrop for never-ending cascades of rainbow hues, not to mention the wonderful water reflections. It’s no wonder then that locals move their boats in to position early in the day to get the best possible view!
Did you know? A Doge is the title of the chief magistrate of Venice or Genoa.
Malta International Fireworks Festival, Malta & Gozo
Malta’s magnificent Fireworks Festival is the new kid on the block when it comes to adding some sparkle to our skies. What started as a celebration of Malta’s accession into the EU in 2004, has transformed to a worldwide competition between International pyrotechnic companies and local groups. Taking place over three nights during a week in April, different themes inspire the dazzling displays each year. The island and its occupants buzz with excitement, and the anticipation is unbelievably infectious! After all, fireworks and the locals’ love of them are well ingrained in the Maltese culture.
As if the fireworks weren’t ‘wow’ enough, the backdrops are just as beautiful! With Gozo’s Xaghra, the traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk and the capital Valletta taking centre stage. The grande finale at Valletta’s harbour is the cream of the crop – with out-of-this-world waterfront illuminations. The shows are synchronised to live singing and orchestras performing music from a floating stage – no mean feat!
Independence Day, USA
One of the most iconic national holidays in the world, Independence Day is a fanciful festivity of fireworks, parades, parties, cold beer, hotdogs, funfairs and flags. The day itself commemorates the United States becoming an independent nation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Decorations spring up left, right and centre in patriotic red, white and blues. And of course the famous stars and stripes make an appearance too! Almost everyone has the day off, so families and friends can celebrate the special day together. With an almost unlimited amount of options on the big day, American’s are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do to mark the famous holiday. The Sunshine State is no exception, with plenty of activities and celebrations to get involved in…
Tampa has plenty of family-orientated events to entertain the little ones. Head to the Temple Terrace and take in the marching bands and bright lights of the fire trucks. Street vendors have dinner catered for, and live music blares out for everyone to enjoy! Fireworks kick off in the evening, where thousands turn out to stare at the sky and watch it together. For a full on experience, Busch Gardens® at Tampa Bay invite the whole family to enjoy a night of thrill rides, live entertainment and DJ party zones. Top it all off with an electrifying, extended fireworks show set to a patriotic medley!
Nearby Clearwater celebrates with good old fashioned backyard barbecues. A delicious way to spend the day, dive into a whole host of American dishes and enjoy the laid-back community vibe. A popular Independence Day pastime is to celebrate with a little baseball action and then head to a dazzling fireworks show. Some people even choose to watch the dramatic display from the luxury of a two-hour boat cruise!
Entertainment capital Orlando is bursting with ways to mark the momentous occasion. It goes without saying that the theme parks pack a punch with out-of-this-world pyrotechnic wizardry. More magic and sparkle than the eyes can handle, the displays are sure to amaze and leave audiences in wonderment. Elsewhere in Orlando, there’s still plenty of Independence Day action to be had. ‘Fireworks at the Fountain’ is a free display with a laser show! Filled with fun, food and live music, it’s a less crowded and more laid-back way to mark the occasion.