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A guide to all the fireworks effects you’ll see this New Year’s Eve

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One of the biggest nights of the year for fireworks is fast approaching – New Year’s Eve 2016. Whatever you’ve got planned for NYE, exciting pyrotechnics are bound to be involved at that crucial moment. After all, there’s no better way to mark the first seconds of a brand new year than with a spectacular fireworks celebration.

If you’re looking forward to NYE fireworks, here are the main effects you can expect to see during your local display. Tip – you can use this information on the night to impress your friends by sounding like a pyrotechnics expert!

Stars

Stars come in many shapes and sizes, but you’ll recognise them usually as a burst of bright lights that scatter in all directions like fireflies – often with a dense crackling sound. These effects fill space in a display perfectly, and it’s amazing how much they light up the sky.

Horsetail

This effect is easy to spot, as it is a compact burst which falls down in a horsetail curve – although some would argue that it looks like a comet or shooting star.

Chrysanthemum

One of the most commonly used firework effects, the chrysanthemum is a round burst of sparks which leave a mesmerising and incredibly beautiful trail behind them.

Peony

Many firework effects are named after flowers due to the similarities in shapes and beautiful colours. The peony is another, an effect similar to the chrysanthemum in that it is a spherical burst of colourful stars. It explodes from the centre, where it sparkles and crackles – this one always gets an “oooh!” from the audience.

Palm

The palm is easily identifiable, as once the initial explosion has happened, the trails of sparks fall out and down in the shape of palm leaves. The amount of space in the sky this one takes up in the sky is particularly impressive, as it lights up the sky and seems to rain down colourful lights. This makes it a real crowd-pleaser, which is why it is used in so many professional fireworks displays.

Pearls

Pearls are a very clever effect to add to a firework display, as they build up anticipation of loud noises and big explosions. However, they confuse and surprise by firing almost noiselessly into the sky as bright, glowing stars with no trail. This futuristic effect is not only quite cool and different to other fireworks, but it also raises excitement levels to fever pitch for the next big explosion.

Fish

This is a fascinating effect, one that really does look like its sparks have a life of their own. After a central explosion, the sparks burst out in all directions – with tiny squiggles of light flying away like fish swimming in the sky. Children will love this effect, especially when you tell them what it’s called!

Have an amazing NYE!

Hopefully this has got you feeling super excited for NYE fireworks – there’s not long to wait now! Have an amazing time, but remember to stay safe!

What do you need to know to safely run an amazing fireworks display for New Years Eve?

With fireworks available to buy online and from many different retail stores, it’s never been easier to plan your own fireworks display. Contrary to popular belief however, running a fireworks display safely isn’t as simple as lighting the fuse and standing back to watch, nor is it easy to create a well-paced, creatively and beautifully designed series of effects. All of this requires skill, training and experience. What’s more, not all categories of fireworks are suitable for use by untrained individuals.

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If you want to run a fireworks event for the public, or hold a professional-standard display at any level, then you’re going to need to do your homework.

Here are the essentials that any ‘senior firer’, as it is known in the industry, should know about:

  • Basic firework chemistry and types of fireworks – you need to understand how fireworks work and how they create the effects they do. An understanding of the chemistry of fireworks and how they are made is needed, as is knowledge of the different categories of fireworks available for sale in the UK.
  • Firework effects – learning about all of the different firework effects and aerial patterns, from bursts and barrages to chrysanthemums and crackles, is essential if you want to put together an aesthetically impressive display.
  • Storing and transporting fireworks – including how to keep fireworks secure and dry and away from flammable or explosive materials, as well as basic tips on transporting fireworks safely.
  • Rigging techniques – there are many different methods you can use to set up your fireworks before firing (particularly in challenging conditions such as wet weather), and many things that can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. A knowledge of the most common techniques and how to execute them confidently is essential.
  • Site design – the layout of your site can make a huge difference to how safe and successful the event is, and you need to learn everything from how large a distance to leave between the firing and spectator zones to the right signage to use
  • Firing methods – just like with rigging, there are lots of different firing techniques, and it’s crucial to learn how to manage this potentially dangerous part of the display like an expert
  • Fallout considerations – what goes up must come down, and you need to learn how to reduce the risk that your fireworks cause harm or damage when they fall. This involves planning your site out carefully so as to leave an adequate ‘fallout’ zone.
  • Disposal – every display manager needs to know how to dispose of used fireworks safely and responsibly. This is just as important as firing the fireworks, as it affects the reputation of the event as well as the safety of all involved.

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Fireworks experts such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks provide comprehensive training for those wanting to become a ‘firer’ or ‘senior firer’, covering all of the above essentials along with practical experience, tips and support at every step of the process.

It’s time! Your guide to a safe and spectacular Bonfire Night…

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The biggest day of the year for fireworks (apart from NYE, of course) is just around the corner. If you’re hosting a fireworks event for Bonfire Night, now is the time to do your last-minute preparations and make sure that everything’s in place for a memorable and magical evening.

The fireworks

Even if you know they’re stored somewhere safe, it’s a good idea to check that your fireworks are all accounted for and that they’re dry and in good condition, before the big night. Read through the firing instructions with your team, so that everyone knows exactly what they’re doing in advance of the show.  You may also want to revisit timings and the pacing of the display to make sure it works for the audience, and perhaps prepare music if there’s going to be any gaps in the display.

The site

A site check is essential before a fireworks event, because you need to check that it’s safe for your team and for spectators. Mark out your firing and spectator zones, and where your bonfire will be lit. If you haven’t done this already, make sure you visit all neighbours to warn them of the event – as it will be loud and may disturb their children or pets. Crucially if you’re hosting a large event, you must let the council and local emergency services know.

Safety, staff and signage

Follow these tips to make sure everyone stays safe on the night:

  • Have a meeting with your team of helpers and volunteers, assigning jobs to everyone so that there’s no confusion as to who is doing what
  • Designate someone qualified as a first aider, as a fire marshal and as a parking steward, as well as a spectator steward
  • Make sure you have signage to direct people around the site, tell them where they are and aren’t allowed to go and provide them with safety advice
  • Double-check that everyone involved in the firing of the fireworks knows exactly what they’re doing. A written procedure is a good idea, one that lists the order of firing and also what you should and shouldn’t do during the display.

The aftermath

Many event organisers forget to put a plan in place for the clean-up of the site when planning fireworks displays, but it really is essential. You need to double and triple check that all fireworks and bonfire materials are fully extinguished, then disposed of safely and responsibly. Your team may need protective clothing, gloves in particular, and you may need to wait until the following morning for everything to be fully extinguished and cold. Ideally, your site should be left exactly as you found it.

Remember – it’s not too late to get professional advice or to order extra fireworks if you need them. You’ve just enough time to get in touch with 1st Galaxy Fireworks to add the finishing touches to your display. Best of luck and have a fantastic evening!

Strapped for cash? How to fund your fireworks (without skimping on the pyrotechnics)

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Buying enough fireworks for a full fabulous display doesn’t come cheap, but it’s always worth the investment when you see the faces of your audience and hear the “oohs” and “aahs” after a particularly whizz-popping effect.

If you love fireworks and you have your heart set on staging your own display this Bonfire Night, but you’re a bit short of the funds you need, don’t worry. There are ways you can fund your display, without having to skimp on the length or the quality of it. Here are some handy ideas:

  • Crowd-fund your display. Crowd-funding has been used to kick-start lots of exciting projects recently, from events to new products. If there is no fireworks event happening in the area on Bonfire Night and you know that there is lots of local demand for one, why not take to the internet and see if you can get some public support and donations? You’ll be surprised how many people may get behind your idea and help turn it into a reality.
  • Charge an entry fee. This is essentially another form of crowd-funding, where attendees of your event help to cover its costs through ticket sales or entry fees. However, with crowdfunding your costs are covered upfront, so you know for definite that you have enough money to go ahead and purchase your fireworks ahead of time. If you charge for tickets on the day and not enough people turn up, you could be left out of pocket. You may also experience cash flow problems having to pay for everything out of your own money, waiting to be reimbursed by ticket sales.
  • Assemble a team of volunteers. It takes a lot of people to look after an event like a fireworks display, from keeping an eye on safety to coordinating access and parking. You can save a huge amount of money on paying staff for these roles by putting the time in to find volunteers. For the chance to watch a free fireworks display (and possibly a hot dog or two to sweeten the deal), many people would be happy to help out for an hour or two.

If all else fails, you can always talk to your local council to see if there’s anything they can do to help – provided your event is a public one that could benefit and bring the whole community together.

What you shouldn’t do to save money

Whatever measures you take to trim the bill for your display, the last thing you should do is buy super cheap fireworks – unless it’s from a reputable place. Bargain bin fireworks are likely to mis-fire, produce lots of horrible smoke or do nothing at all. They could even be dangerous.

If you are concerned about money when buying your fireworks, speak to one of the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks, who can help you design a display around your specific budget.

10 expert tips for crystal clear fireworks photography

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It’s only natural to reach for your camera or smartphone when you see something jaw-dropping, like a multi-coloured fountain of sparks and lights raining down from high in the sky, but it can be disappointing to look at the pictures the next day. Fireworks are uniquely tricky to photograph, due to the combination of flashing bright lights and the speed at which they fire. This can result in fuzzy photographs showing nothing but a vague blur of light, unless you know what you’re doing.

Here are 10 top tips to help you capture the perfect image of a fantastic fireworks display this Bonfire Night, many of which were provided in a recent article by professional Liverpool Echo photographer Jason Roberts:

1. Get a better camera. It sounds obvious, but you really will get better results with a higher spec camera or a smartphone with a superior camera. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a professional camera, but you may need a slight upgrade for fireworks photography.

2. Use a tripod. If you’re using a camera, you need a level surface on which to take your image. In all the excitement of a noisy display, your grip alone may not be steady enough!

3. Make use of the iPhone HRD function – it’s tailor-made for getting a great image in situations like this.

4. Turn the flash off. You simply don’t need a flash when photographing fireworks, but many people naturally leave it on because they’re taking photos at night. The flash on either a camera or smartphone can drown the foreground of the picture so you don’t get the detail you need on the fireworks themselves.

5. Don’t zoom in. If you’re using a smartphone, resist the temptation to zoom in on a particular effect. This can affect the quality and focus. Instead, take the picture and crop it to size later on.

6. Use a remote release. If you have this feature on your camera, use it. Other tips for camera use include using a low ISO setting, the right F-stop and a long exposure (up to 3 seconds).

7. Clean your phone! If you’ve ever come back from holiday and looked at the photos taken on your phone and wondered why they were so blurry, you’ll know the importance of keeping your phone lens clean. Give it a rub with a soft cloth before heading to the display.

8. Try the burst mode. This is a function on many phones which allows you to take several photos, one after another, while only pressing the button once. This is a great function in fast-paced fireworks displays, where everything happens so quickly that more chances to find that one perfect shot can be a great advantage.

9. Take LOTS of photos. Just like the tip above, you’re going to need lots of photos in order to capture that one perfect moment. You can delete them all later, but snap as many pictures as you can during the display.

10. Get your timing right. You need to be aiming and ready to take the photo as a firework is being fired, not once it has already exploded in the sky. Practice your timing so that you don’t miss your window to get the perfect shot.

Countdown to Bonfire night…it’s nearly time!

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Fireworks fans would say that it’s never too early to start planning Bonfire Night celebrations, but the big night really will be upon us in just a few months’ time. It takes a bit of time, effort and planning to host anything bigger than a few sparklers in your back garden with your family, so now is definitely the time to start your preparations.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to planning an incredible fireworks display in the run-up to November 5th

Step 1 – Get your venue sorted now

Without a venue, your event can’t go ahead, so make it your top priority to find somewhere to hold your display. Popular venues such as pubs with large beer gardens are likely to get booked up early, making it even more urgent to get your venue nailed down. Even a friend’s back garden will do provided it’s big enough, but you’ll need to make a final decision early in order to plan out the space properly. If you’re planning to promote your event to the general public, you’ll also need to finalise your venue, as well as a date and time.

Step 2 – Plan your display

How long will your display last? This will depend largely on how much money you have to spend, so start by allocating a budget for the event and think how you’ll fund it (i.e. donations from family members or ticket sales). The length of your display also depends on the pacing of it, which is why planning early is so important. Make a list of all the different fireworks you want and start planning a firing order. It’s a good idea to speak to a specialist, like the team at 1st Galaxy fireworks, for information on how long each firework lasts and advice on what order to set them off. Don’t buy your fireworks just yet, unless you’ve got somewhere completely safe and dry to store them.

Step 3 – Get all the safety stuff sorted

All responsible events organisers draw up a plan for health and safety, and this is especially important for fireworks events which can be dangerous if not managed properly. Do the following:

  • Carry out a risk assessment
  • Draw a layout plan for the site – marking out safe zones for firing and for spectators
  • Gather a team and allocate jobs and responsibilities to everyone
  • Name a person (if not yourself) who is responsible for health and safety on the day
  • Get some signage made to make spectators aware of risks
  • Notify the local authority and local emergency services of your event

If you’re setting off the fireworks yourself, make sure you do your homework and know exactly what you’re doing, as well as getting all the right protective gear. If you have any doubts or concerns, always call in a professional to manage the display for you.

Step 4 – Buy your fireworks and promote your event

A bit closer to the event, it’s time to buy your fireworks. Always, always buy quality, certified products from a reputable supplier – if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Then, get the word out about your Bonfire Night event and start looking forward to it!

9 special occasions that are simply crying out for an amazing fireworks display

Proposal 1st galaxy fireworksMost people celebrate two main days of the year with fireworks – Bonfire Night in November and New Year’s Eve. But what about the rest of the year? You’ll actually find that there are plenty of opportunities to bring out the pyrotechnics.

Here are just 9 of the many special occasions that can be made even better with fireworks:

1. 4th July parties. If you have American friends or you just love any excuse for a party, hold an Independence Day party with U.S snacks and a red, white and blue themed fireworks display.

2. Landmark birthdays. Birthdays such as your 21st, 40th or 65th require a little extra celebration, and are well worth setting aside a bit of a budget for fireworks.

3. Big anniversaries. Any romantic occasion deserves a big romantic gesture, which is why many couples choose fireworks to celebrate their big wedding anniversaries (i.e. 10th, 20th, 30th and so on). You can even add an extra element of surprise by pretending you haven’t planned anything for the occasion, then surprising your other half with a personalised fireworks display.

4. New business or product launches. Fireworks aren’t just for parties – they’re also a great way to get lots of attention for the launch of a new business or product. Plan an event centred around a spectacular fireworks display, and make sure to publicise it in the local press and online.

5. Corporate fun days. Work-related fun days and team building exercises can be a bit dull, which is why it’s a good idea to spend a little more time and money to make them feel special for those participating. For example, a fireworks display can be a great reward for those taking part in your event.

6. Proposals. How you do make popping the question really special? It’s all about setting the scene to make it as romantic as possible, and celebrating what will hopefully be a “yes” with a fireworks display.

7. Weddings. There is no better time to really push the boat out and plan an extravagant, pyrotechnic display than the biggest day of your life. You can even get your fireworks personalised with your favourite colours, your initials written in the sky and even a display synchronised with your wedding song.

8. Sporting finals. If your team is in the final and you’ve got a really good feeling about it, why not throw a party and round off the night with some fireworks? If it all goes as planned and your team wins, there’s no better way to celebrate. If not, you can cheer yourselves up with the display. Just make sure you plan it properly, manage the display responsibly and never, ever go near fireworks when you’ve had a beer.

9. Community events. If there’s money in a budget, put on a real show for your community with a fireworks display. You can even ask for small contributions or an entry fee and put the funds towards an even bigger display.

A display organiser’s checklist: 15 things to do ahead of your fireworks event

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An incredible fireworks display takes quite a bit of work and advance planning, but it will definitely be worth it when you wow your audience with an exciting and explosive evening’s entertainment.

If you’ve got an event looming, or you want to start your preparations for Bonfire Night nice and early, here’s a quick checklist of essential tasks you’ll need to do:

1. Assemble a team. Unless your event is tiny, you’ll need help managing the fireworks and the crowd safely. Choose your team and allocate jobs to spread the workload.

2. Nail down the venue and the date. Your ideal venue may get booked up quickly, especially if it’s a Bonfire Night display, so scope out the local area nice and early. Look for somewhere with lots of space, good transport links and access and not too many neighbours and residential properties nearby.

3. Get some expert advice. If no one in your team has experience planning displays, get some tips from an expert. Better still, hire an experienced display planner, like the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks, to plan the display for you.

4. Inform the authorities. Once you have your date, it’s recommended to inform the local council, police, fire service and first aid organisations.

5. Market the event. Get the word out with posters in shop windows, lots of posts on social media and perhaps an ad or feature in the local newspaper.

6. Organise safety equipment. You’ll need safety signs, fire extinguishers, buckets of water for sparklers, hi vis vests and protective clothing for your team.

7. Plan the schedule for the evening. This could be as simple as the start and end times of the display, but you can also include times for when your staff need to carry out key tasks.

8. Create a site plan. You’ll need to mark out the firing zone, spectator area and other key points on the site, leaving plenty of space for each.

9. Create a barrier for the spectator zone. This will stop spectators from getting too close to the firing zone

10. Let the neighbours know. Not everyone is a fan of fireworks, especially if they’re taking place next door. Give neighbours plenty of notice, and perhaps a free ticket to the event, to keep them on-side.

11. Come up with emergency plans. This means having a trained first aider on site and planning for every possible emergency or worst-case scenario you can think of.

12. Buy your fireworks. Only buy certified, high quality fireworks from a reputable provider.

13. Arrange for your fireworks to be safely stored. They need to stay dry and away from children and animals.

14. Sort out lighting, signage, parking and access. Think about how all of your spectators will get on site and get around safely.

15. Consider insurance. Will you be liable for any injuries or loss sustained during the evening? If so, you may need to take out your own public liability insurance.

3 ways to kick your wedding fireworks up a notch

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Fireworks are the icing on the (wedding) cake at the end of your big day, but for some people – an ordinary display just isn’t special enough.

If you want to do something truly spectacular, surprising or unique with your wedding fireworks, you’re in luck. There are lots of ways you can make your display stand out from other wedding celebrations, but you may need to put a little extra cash into the entertainment budget and spend a little longer planning.

Here are some ideas to get those creative ideas flowing:

1. Plan a musical surprise

Start your fireworks display off just like any other, then spring a surprise on your guests as your wedding song (or another favourite tune) starts up and the fireworks are choreographed to match – just imagine the looks on your guests’ faces! You can set fireworks to many different kinds of songs, from rock classics to power ballads, but you’ll need a professional to help you get the timing just right. It’s a really cool way to mark the end of a memorable day, and you can guarantee that no other wedding will have exactly the same thing.

2. Head out onto the water

The way to make your fireworks extra special isn’t necessarily to change anything about the display itself. Instead, why not change the way you and your guests watch the display? Nothing could be more romantic or feel as magical as watching a spectacular fireworks display from a candle-lit boat floating gently on a lake, the lights reflecting beautifully on the water’s surface. If you can make this happen (for starters, you’ll need a venue with a body of water and a lot of boats for your guests, plus health and safety concerns and lots of other planning) – it will be truly special.

3. Go BIG

If you really want to go all out with your fireworks, the solution is simple – go really, really big. You want every inch of night sky over your reception venue to feel like it’s literally exploding with light and colour, in an epic display that no one will stop talking about for weeks after the wedding. It won’t be cheap, but will be incredible. It is the biggest day of your life, after all!

Planning a display on this scale is not something you’d be recommended to try yourself. The challenge is just too big, and extra stress is not what you need in the build-up to your big day. An expert fireworks planner, like the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks, can design a custom display to suit whatever brief you provide. It’ll be professional, jaw-dropping and best of all – you don’t have to lift a finger to enjoy the fireworks. Everything is managed for you, so you can simply sit back, give your new bride or groom a squeeze and enjoy the show.

So what if it’s raining? 6 tips to outfox the weather and put on an amazing display

It’s a commonly held belief that fireworks don’t work in the rain. However, this isn’t strictly true, as with a bit of careful planning you can beat the weather and still put on a fantastic show for your audience.

 

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If the great British weather is doing its usual unpredictable thing, even at the height of summer, here are the steps you can take to keep your fireworks event on course and avoid disappointing your audience:

1. Let everyone know what’s going on. If the weather’s bad, people will naturally assume that the display will be cancelled. If you plan to go ahead, you need to let everyone know and work extra hard to market the event to ensure that lots of people turn up. Use all channels available to you, from emailing ticket holders to putting the word out on social media.

2. Provide cover for your audience. This is a crucial thing to provide if you want your spectators to have a good time. No one wants to be standing in the rain staring up at the sky (inevitably getting rain in their eyes), so provide gazebos or other cover to keep everyone dry. Crucially, make sure you mention in your marketing that cover will be provided, as it could make the difference between people showing up and deciding to stay home instead.

3. Store your fireworks somewhere dry. In the run-up to the event, prevent your fireworks getting ruined by damp conditions by storing them somewhere safe and dry. Check them regularly to make sure there are no nasty surprises on the day.

4. Waterproof your fireworks. Its relatively easy, if a little time consuming, to waterproof your fireworks by wrapping them in bags or cling film. Seek some expert advice on this if you’re unsure, and make sure to always keep the fuses dry, especially when ripping off waterproof coverings in order to reach the fuses.

5. Bring extra lighters. Whichever method you’re using to light your fireworks, you’re likely to need at least one spare in damp conditions. Another good tip is to get yourself a head torch, leaving your hands free to handle, position and light the fireworks.

6. Consult an expert. Fireworks professionals like the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks have lots of experience managing displays in all kinds of conditions, so they’re the ones to turn to if you need expert help overcoming rainy conditions.

When to take rain seriously and cancel your display

In unfortunate some situations, you have to admit defeat and take action for the safety of your team and your guests. When the rain is really heavy, the site is flooded or your team can’t properly see what they’re doing due to the conditions, it’s time to cancel your event. As spectacular as your display was bound to be, it just isn’t worth risking the safety of everyone involved. Wait for a dryer day and then try again.