How To - Design a Firework Display

In recent years the range of fireworks available to the general public has developed so that it is now possible to design professional looking shows.

In a traditional professional firework display the format was to mix up the types of fireworks to keep the audiences attention throughout the display, leading to a grand finale. They were usually started with some shells to grab the audiences attention and mark the start of the display. From then on it was a rotation of firework types. The sequences followed the pattern of Roman candles, some rockets, a set piece (a wheel or display of fountains for example) followed by some shells (these are the aerial fireworks which burst in the sky producing the large round umbrella of stars). These sequences continued until the build up to the finale with roman candles and shells fired together with a maroon shell at the very end.

Modern, professional computer fired displays now tend to use single firing roman candles (single shots), rows of single shots pre-fused together to be fired as a fan or sweeping effects, roman candles and shells with some set pieces where called for. These firework types give the designer ultimate control and flexibility.

Shells are reserved for professional use only because they require specialist knowledge and training but the consumer can use rockets to equal effect and can indeed achieve results which are now lost in many cases in professional displays due to the complexity of firing rockets electronically.

If you are having a firework party or are using the event as a fundraiser sparklers can help build the atmosphere. Watch as the crowd delight in a simple but captivating effect. They are not to be given to children under 5 years of age but young people really enjoy getting close to the sparks as they flicker and dance.

Where there is sufficient budget and firing area we always suggest at least one rocket to start the show. Nothing beats the excitement of seeing the fuse light on a rocket. The crowd watch as it leaves the launcher, the distinctive sound and sight of the motor tail as it soars skyward and then bursts into colour.

Just as in a professional show its then back down to ground level with a Single Ignition Barrage. These were developed in the last 15 to 20 years to augment roman candle batteries. Most roman candles fire 8 shots over 25-30 seconds and can be fused together to make a battery. Now we can import a 150 shot Single Ignition Barrage. This operates from one fuse working its way through the effects and can be loaded in infinite combinations and firing patterns. They were a great innovation, becoming in some cases, the commonly referred to "display in a box". This type of firework was seen to resemble a cake and this it what they are referred to in the industry. The key in show design is to maintain interest so try to buy a variety of effects and firing patterns if space allows. When cakes are fired throughout the display try to mix up the firing patterns so that each sequence is novel and keeps the audience guessing what will happen next. If your environment allows be sure to include sound as well as light, whistles and screeches can appeal to young and old alike.

Don't forget to add some Roman Candle Batteries. These add a different firing style, multiple shots fired in quick succession in a tight column. These look fantastic fired in a V shape and even better as VV where the centres cross. These are commonly used in professional displays to create a wide lattice effect.

Following the fast, high impact, effects of a cake or a roman candle battery its time to ring the changes again. Fountains can be used to change the tempo and watching the titanium sparks dance in the sky can be quite mesmerising. They can also include some crackling effects and coloured stars to add to the excitement.

Just as in a professional display its back to the skies with a few rockets. Give each one its moment of glory. Allow the audience to clearly see its ascent and enjoy the effects before launching the next.

Make sure you read all the safety instructions on the fireworks and try to keep the display going smoothly with as little interruption as possible.

Lastly, don't forget to save your favourite effects till last and, if you can, fire some rockets at the same time to give you a layered look used by the professionals.

If you take time to plan you display, whatever size it is, you will find it very rewarding and your audience will appreciate the extra effort. 

Take a look at what we offer and get creative!

For more information please look at our Giving your own Firework Display page.