Local fireworks displays get bigger and better every year, and we’ve lined up the best of the bunch ahead of bonfire night next week. But we couldn’t stop there. We’ve cast our eyes further afield and picked what we think are the best fireworks shows on the map. The best thing is, they don’t all happen in November – so you can get your fireworks fix all year round.
Peterborough Firework Fiesta, Peterborough Arena, UK
2nd November, gates at 4pm
Peterborough Firework Fiesta is one of the biggest fireworks displays in the UK. A crackling bonfire, a parade of Guys and a huge funfair provide the warm up. Throw in the chirpy Heart radio presenters and live bands, and you’ve got yourself a please-all night. Plus, it’s all for a good cause – all proceeds go to local charities.
TOP TIP: Bring along a few camping chairs and sit in the arena zone for the best view. But make a beeline for the covered grandstand if it’s drizzling – there are thousands of spaces up for grabs.
Lewes Bonfire Night, East Sussex, UK
5th November 2013, from 5pm
This one’s for the traditionalists. Come the 5th November, 6 historic Bonfire Societies descend on the tiny market town of Lewes, each with their own age-old traditions and costumes. The groups march different routes through the narrow streets, waving burning torches and beating drums, before merging for the huge Grand Parade. Effigies for the bonfire tend to be on the topical side – think celebrities and politicians.
TOP TIP: This is said to be the biggest bonfire night celebration in the world, so it’s no surprise that public transport and car parks get packed. Make a day of it and arrive late morning to beat the crowds.
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, US
Free with park entry
At Walt Disney World Resort, fireworks displays are a nightly thing. The Magic Kingdom puts on the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, while Epcot’s pièce de résistance throws together a fireworks, laser and water show combo. But holiday-themed shows are the biggies – that’s Halloween, Christmas and New Year. And when it comes to Independence Day on July 4th, ‘Celebrate America!’ sees supersized fireworks sprouting out above Cinderella’s Castle. Patriotic soundtrack included.
TOP TIP: Grab a spot in front of Cinderella’s Castle – you might spot Tinkerbell flitting across the sky during the grand finale.
Day of the Dead, various locations in Mexico
Fireworks light up the skies over Mexico in this fiery 2-day fiesta. Loads of places celebrate, but Mexico City wins first prize for spectacle. Hundreds make tracks for San Gregorio Atlapulco cemetery to frolic around bonfires and gawp at the impromptu fireworks shows. The whole thing is dedicated to celebrating the life and death of ancestors.
TOP TIP: Kids will love dressing up in the traditional sugar skull get-up – use face paints to draw big hollow eyes and multicoloured swirls.
Alexandra Palace, London, UK
2nd November 2013, 2pm-11pm
Knowing Ally Pally, this is bound to be the coolest fireworks display in London. Just check out the 2013 line-up – a street food village will keep you fed and watered, while an Oasis tribute band rocks the soundwaves. A German Bier Festival will be on hand, too – watch out for Bavarian sausages and the oompah band. Meanwhile, the family funfair and ice skating rink will keep the children busy.
TOP TIP: Keep an eye on Twitter for up-to-date info – the organisers are using #bang.
Macy’s Fourth of July Day, New York City, US
4th July, 9pm
Unsurprisingly, a blue, white and red theme dominates Macy’s mammoth fireworks display. The 25-minute show might celebrate Independence Day, but it usually goes for a modern soundtrack of artists like Usher and Taylor Swift. A total of 40,000 fireworks end up silhouetting the skyline, making it the biggest fireworks display on record.
TOP TIP: The best views are around 4th Avenue and 29th Street – head down in the morning to guarantee a spot.
FiestAventura, PortAventura, Spain
Nightly throughout July and August, around 11pm
Free with park entry
Forget Europe’s fastest rollercoaster – come summer, PortAventura is all about first-rate fireworks. The display is dubbed FiestAventura and throws just about every firework imaginable against a backdrop of sky-scraping rides and mirrored lakes. Fiery floats zip through the water – watch out for giant dragons and sombrero-clad amigos.
TOP TIP: The fireworks usually kick off pretty late, so FiestAventura is best for teens.
Festival of Pyrotechnic Art, Cannes, France
July and August, 10pm start
Pyrotechnics experts from around the world battle it out at this 2-month-long festival. Fireworks displays pop up weekly on Cannes’ waterfront, judged by both professionals and the public. These 25-minute works of art get more creative every year, so expect to be wowed.
TOP TIP: If you want an earful of the all-important soundtrack, make a beeline for the Palais des Festivals. Kick-off is at 10pm, but get there nice and early – 200,000-plus people turn up to these shows.
Aberdeen’s Winter Festival Fireworks Night, Scotland, UK
5th November 2013, 7pm-9pm
The Winter Festival Fireworks Night lights up Aberdeen’s waterfront. Things are done on a grand scale – last year, the Bond theme came with an epic soundtrack. Street performers and food stalls act as a warm-up for the Technicolor show. You can even have a go at walking across hot coals – all in the name of charity, of course.
TOP TIP: Head for Beach Esplanade and Beach Boulevard for the best views.
Battersea Park, London, UK
2nd November 2013, gates at 6pm
Rumour has it, this is the best fireworks display in London – it reeled in over 40,000 people in 2012. The fireworks themselves are more tightly choreographed than a Moscow ballet troupe, and come with an epic soundtrack starring the likes of Muse, Labrinth and Jessie J. As for food stalls, expect a sizzling hog roast plus classics like roasted chestnuts and hot dogs.
TOP TIP: The further you book in advance, the cheaper the tickets are.
Bristol Zoo Gardens, UK
1st-3rd November 2013, gates at 5pm
The fireworks display at Bristol Zoo Gardens is ideal for toddlers – bangers and screamers are swapped for sparkling fountains and crackling comets. Not only does that mean little ears are kept happy, but the resident tigers and hippos get to enjoy the show, too. Fire dancers and a giant bonfire have made past appearances, and seasonal treats like hot dogs, soup and home-made cakes wait in the wings.
TOP TIP: children under 2 get free entry – just remember to book their tickets online in advance, as there’s limited space.
Honda Celebration of Light, Vancouver, Canada
26th July-2nd August 2014, 10pm
The biggest offshore fireworks display in the world kick-starts from Vancouver’s waterfront. Over a midsummer week, 3 countries throw down to become that year’s reigning champion. Displays like to push the boundaries of what’s possible, so they’re usually packed full of never-seen-before numbers like smiley face-shaped fireworks. And, this being Vancouver, the city throws in a Rocky Mountain backdrop for good measure.
TOP TIP: The best seat in the house is the seawall at English Bay – get there around 6pm to grab a good spot. Red Bull stuntmen and live music will keep the kids occupied until 10pm rolls around.
Heroines Festival, Phuket, Thailand
13th March, 8.30pm-11pm
Fireworks displays and a dance extravaganza are the highlights of the little-known Heroines Festival. It celebrates sisters Chan and Mook, who led a battle against an 18th-century Burmese invasion. The reenactment-come-dance is a bit of an epic, involving Muay Thai fighters, a huge set, and a Star Wars-style soundtrack. And it’s all finished off with a fireworks show. To get there, just head to the inland town of Thalang and follow the crowds.
TOP TIP: The show is over an hour long, so if you start getting itchy feet head off for a wander around the nearby food and craft stalls.
Malta International Fireworks Festival, Valletta, Malta
25th-30th April 2014
It’s called a festival, but this is really an international fireworks competition. Pyrotechnics crews from all around the world duke it out to put on the most spectacular display. The fireworks keep going over 3 nights right by Valletta’s pretty Medieval harbour.
TOP TIP: The best viewing spots are the streets of Ta’ Liesse and Barriera.
Festa del Redentore, Venice, Italy
The domes, bell towers, and spires of St Mark’s Cathedral are all lit up at the yearly Festa del Redentore. It’s had centuries to perfect its line-up, which includes an eerie boat parade of lanterns. Primarily, it’s a religious festival, so it’s got a real local feel. Just bring a Thermos of coffee – fireworks don’t kick off until half 11.
TOP TIP: Classical music fans are sorted – the whole weekend is spotted with performances by world-famous opera singers and instrumentalists.
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Author: Catherine Roberts
Published: October 31, 2013
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