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Fireworks and the summer solstice – is it too light to hold a display?

Fireworks and a pitch-black sky are a match made in heaven. The contrast between the bright lights and the darkness of the night-time sky makes the colours of fireworks really pop, and it’s what makes displays so very special.

Now that the year’s longest day, the summer solstice, is nearly upon us – does this mean that it’s too light to hold a display? At normal display times of around 8-9pm in the evening, it will still be full daylight outside. This can mean that the dazzling effects are dulled or missed altogether.

The obvious solution is to hold your display later, when night has fallen. However, this presents another problem – the law on when you can and can’t hold public firework displays.

Fireworks and the law

It is against the law to hold a display between 11pm and 7am unless it happens to be Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve. Some local authorities also have their own rules about times when it is and isn’t permitted to set off fireworks. It’s always important to check these laws before planning a display of any kind, whether public or private. If you are caught breaking them, you could face fines of up to £5,000.

How to defeat the summer solstice and hold an amazing display

The good news is that it is perfectly possible to hold a crowd-pleasing display even at the height of summer. In fact, the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team have organised many professional displays when the days are long. There are a few important things to remember:

  • Check the sunset time. It varies all over the UK at different times of the year. For example, in June sunset is around 10pm up in Edinburgh, 9.40pm in Manchester and 9.30pm down in London. You should still have plenty of time to hold a display before the 11pm cut off, even if you leave it a short while to get dark.
  • Keep it short and dynamic. Fireworks displays in summer are often shorter than in winter because of the rush to beat the 11pm cut-off. The key to success is to trim down your display but pack more in. This doesn’t mean disappointing the audience with a 3-minute show where everything is fired at once though. Cut the display down to 10-15 minutes and plan it very carefully so that it has more impact, dynamism and excitement – so that no one will even notice that it’s a bit short.
  • Enjoy the sun! Plan your event around a warm summer’s evening, inviting attendees to enjoy food, drink and other activities in the last light of the evening before finishing off the night with a spectacular display. This gives your guests more value and also makes the fireworks the crowning glory of a great event.
  • Embrace the sunset colours. When the sun is setting after a glorious summer day, it creates breathtaking colours in the sky. This, along with the fading light, can actually enhance the beauty of your display – so work with it!

3 useful tips to stop smoke ruining your fireworks display

One of the reasons that fireworks are so impressive is the contrast between the beautiful lights and colours and the darkness of the night sky. Clarity, contrast and definition are crucial to the success of a display, which is why smoke is a fireworks planner’s worst nightmare.

Smoke can obscure the effects of the fireworks and can even cause discomfort (i.e. coughing, watering eyes) for your spectators. Here are 3 ways you can minimise smoke in your next fireworks show:

  1. Only buy good quality fireworks

Not only will you get vastly improved effects and quality if you buy better fireworks, but you’ll also get far less smoke. Cheap fireworks are notorious for producing lots of smoke, which can ruin a display. Products at bargain basement, ‘too good to be true’ prices can also misfire, not fire at all or do unexpected and potentially dangerous things. Only buy from approved, trusted suppliers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks, which is a long-standing member of the British Pyrotechnics Association and has built up a sterling reputation over 20 years in the business.

  1. Keep a close eye on the weather conditions

The weather can play a big part in the success and safety of your event. Wind is essential to keeping your display as smoke-free as possible, as it blows the smoke away to keep the effects of the fireworks lovely and visible. A balmy summer’s evening may seem perfect for your event, but if there’s no wind – you could end up dealing with a lot of smoke.

If weather conditions create a temperature inversion, you could also experience problems with smoke. Normally, warm air from the ground rises into the cooler air at night and dissipates. In a temperature inversion, warm air actually sits on top of the cool air and this can trap smoke in the atmosphere and spoil the visibility of your display.

  1. Plan your site layout with the wind direction in mind

As we’ve mentioned in the previous point, the wind can be a display organiser’s best friend or worst enemy. You need to keep a close eye on weather conditions to ensure that there is enough wind to blow smoke away from the site. However, you also need to plan your layout carefully so that the wind will blow smoke away from where your spectators are standing. If the wind direction changes in the run-up to your event, you may need a Plan B ready for re-positioning your spectator area. It would be a disaster for smoke to head right for your spectators, as it will ruin their view as well as causing lots of discomfort for them. This is especially important if you are aiming to run a family-friendly event.

If you need help or advice on planning your display and keeping smoke to a minimum, don’t hesitate to contact the knowledgeable team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks. We can also plan and manage displays for you, using our extensive experience to pull off a smoke-free, truly spectacular show to delight your spectators.

Specialist vs. seasonal fireworks suppliers – which one to choose

There are many reasons why we at 1st Galaxy advise customers always to buy their fireworks from a specialist supplier rather than a seasonal seller or a supermarket, and not only because we ourselves offer a specialist fireworks service.

Not many people realise that the companies they buy their fireworks from around Bonfire Night or New Year are actually only seasonal suppliers. These are sellers that only have a licence to sell fireworks at certain limited times of the year. Here’s why you should shun the seasonal seller, and choose a specialist for your next fireworks event…

The knowledge

With a specialist supplier such as ourselves, you can have only the vaguest idea of what you want and receive extremely helpful advice to guide you towards a decision. Specialists have expert knowledge of all kinds of fireworks and effects, which comes from having planned thousands of unique displays. They can talk you through all of your options and recommend the best products. On the other hand, if you know exactly what you want – a specialist can pinpoint the exact products for your needs. If you compare this to shopping in a supermarket for your fireworks, you may find that staff don’t even know the difference between a rocket and a roman candle.

A specialist can also show you what a particular effect will look like, to help you put your display together. Most have videos and images demonstrating each product, so you can really get a feel for it.

A wide and varied product range

Seasonal suppliers often have a very small product range, limited to their most popular lines. If you want something unique or just a bit special, or you simply want more choice, the specialist should be your first port of call. They offer a much wider range of brands and fireworks types, to help you make your display totally unique. Just as importantly, specialists have all the accessories and add-ons you may need to host a display.

Aftercare

When you shop with a specialist, you can count on them for advice and support before, during and after the event – particularly if you hire a professional display organiser. If something goes wrong or you have a complaint, or you simply want tips on putting on a more professional show afterwards, the specialist will be there for you. The seasonal supplier may be long gone, not available until the same time next year. Generally speaking, seasonal suppliers are also more concerned with making the most sales during a limited timeframe than they are with helping the customer.

How to find a specialist

The easiest way to find a specialist fireworks supplier you can trust is to look on the website of the British Pyrotechnics Association website, which is the UK’s association for professional firework display companies. This is where you’ll find 1st Galaxy Fireworks, which has spent years building up an exceptional reputation within the industry and with our customers.

Do you know the fireworks safety code?

Everyone knows that fireworks are only fun when they’re safe. A well-organised, safety-conscious display can be incredible fun for everyone, helping to celebrate a special occasion in real style.

However, not everyone pays attention to recommended safety advice about using fireworks. This is when accidents can happen. To help everyone from event organisers to spectators stay safe around fireworks, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has come up with an easy to remember Fireworks Code. It’s a ‘ten commandments’ of fireworks safety that everyone should know. Here are the basics:

  1. Plan your display properly so that it’s safe and enjoyable for everyone. All fireworks shows should be planned – it can be dangerous to spontaneously start setting fireworks off. You need to work out how each product is safely fired, who will do what and how you will reduce risks – as well as informing your neighbours!
  2. Keep fireworks somewhere safe and only use them one at a time. Safe means in a closed box, somewhere dry and away from sources of ignition.
  3. Follow all the instructions on each firework. Read them in advance and take a torch with you on the evening of the display so you can double-check the instructions again.
  4. Use a taper to light fireworks at arm’s length, standing well back. Tapers are designed to make lighting fireworks safer, giving you longer to get away and stopping sparks from burning your skin. Use them!
  5. Keep naked flames away from fireworks. This means lighters and especially cigarettes, which many people don’t always realise can ignite fireworks.
  6. Never go back to a firework once it’s been lit. This is when fireworks can be the most dangerous, when you think they haven’t been lit properly and return for a closer look.
  7. Never put fireworks in pockets or throw them. It’s obvious why you shouldn’t put fireworks in your pocket, even if they are unlit – and throwing them is simply irresponsible and very dangerous. Always light fireworks when stationary and properly set up.
  8. Direct rockets away from spectators. Rockets are the biggest and most powerful of fireworks, which travel the furthest at the highest speed. You need to ensure they are directed away from the crowd, with a landing zone somewhere safe.
  9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire. As fireworks and bonfires are often organised together, this is a crucial addition to the fireworks safety code. Even if a bonfire is slow to get started, never use an accelerant on it as the blaze can flare up and quickly get out of control if not causing injury.
  10. Make sure fire and fireworks are completely out before leaving the site. It’s not enough to assume, you need to be sure.

Now that you know your fireworks code, it’s time to get on with planning a fun and fabulous display. Be safe, organised and have a brilliant time!

Anyone for cake? A guide to one of the most popular firework types


If you’re shopping for fireworks on 1st Galaxy, you’re likely to come across many different colourful and wonderful types of cake barrages. For those unfamiliar with fireworks terminology, this can be a little confusing. What exactly is a cake firework, and why on earth is it called that?

Introduction to the cake

A cake barrage is a multi-shot firework, which means that it contains a number of fireworks all set off by a single fuse. This is what makes them so popular, as you can enjoy a spectacular and varied range of exciting effects without having to buy or light a lot of different fireworks.

Cake fireworks contain a number of tubes, each containing a single shot and all connected by a single internal fuse. Once this is lit, each firework is set off in turn. You can find cakes in many different shapes and sizes, from simple 10 shot to grand 100 shot barrages. They can contain many different effects, from Roman candles to aerial shells. You don’t always just get one effect in each cake – some contain lots of different effects and you don’t always know which order they will go off in, which can make them extra exciting to use.

Fan cakes

One of the newest and most exciting developments in cake fireworks is the rising popularity of the fan cake. A little more expensive than ordinary cakes, this is where the tubes are angled out in a fan shape. This means of course that the effects ‘fan out’ in a gorgeous shape and in all directions. These have proved to be real crowd-pleasers, so it’s definitely worth including at least a couple in your next display.

Why are cakes so popular?

Cake barrages are tremendously good value, as they provide multiple firework effects in just one bundle. You don’t have to light each individually, so they’re easy for anyone to use. These fireworks also produce longer displays, giving you lots more action for your money.

But what about the name?

While not everyone agrees as to the origins of the name, it is generally thought that cakes got their name from one simple fact – that bundled altogether, the multiple tubes in their wrapping look just like a cake. Coupled with the fact that fireworks are linked to celebrations and each shot is like the candle on top of a birthday cake, this makes a lot of sense.

Choosing cake barrages

1st Galaxy Fireworks has many different cake barrage bundles to choose from. Budget will of course be one of your first considerations, but also think about how long you want the barrage to last when picking out cake fireworks for your display. You can choose low shot barrages featuring interesting and unusual effects, or you can opt for 100 shot cakes which will entertain the crowds for longer while you get your next lot of fireworks ready.

5 things everyone should know about sparklers

Sparklers are one of the most popular types of fireworks in the UK. They’re cheap, easy to buy and anyone can use one – plus they’re a lot of fun! But are you underestimating the humble sparkler?

The danger of sparklers is that many people don’t think of them as fireworks. This is despite the fact that they consist of a metal rod coated with a flammable pyrotechnic compound. This sometimes leads to casual and careless use of sparklers, and it could turn what should be a fun occasion into a trip to the hospital.

To use sparklers safely and ensure everyone has a great time with them, bear these 5 essential facts and tips in mind:

  1. A sparkler burns at over 15 times the temperature of boiling water. Not many people realise just how scorching hot sparklers are, which can be extremely dangerous. This is why they should be treated with care and respect, and always extinguished fully.
  2. Drunk people and unsupervised children shouldn’t use sparklers. Not that we’re comparing the two, but both intoxicated adults and inexperienced children can be careless with sparklers in a way that could be dangerous. Sparklers are fun, but they aren’t toys. Someone should be carefully supervising children when they use sparklers, while anyone who’s had a drink should stay well clear. It’s all too easy to misjudge risk or do something silly like put a sparkler in your pocket when alcohol is involved.
  3. They’re not for use indoors. Unless clearly marked as such, sparklers should not be used indoors. They’re far too hot and there’s not enough space to use them safely. They pose a risk to your curtains and other soft furnishings, plus will produce lots of unpleasant smoke. Take it outside!
  4. You still need to put spent sparklers in water or sand, even if it seems like they’ve gone out. A common response when a sparkler has gone out is just to drop it in the bin or on the floor. Just because the sparkle has gone out though, this doesn’t mean the sparkler is not still very hot and a possible source of ignition if anything flammable is nearby. Plus, someone else could pick it up when cleaning the area and burn themselves. Just to be sure, always dunk your spent sparklers in a bucket of water or sand.
  5. Sparklers are best enjoyed one at a time. Always light sparklers just one at a time and keep lit sparklers away from each other. Too many of them together can cause a flare-up – for example, the heat of three together can be as hot as a blowtorch! If you’re lighting sparklers for lots of people, don’t rush it. Light one at a time and hand them round.

Finally, have fun! When used safely and responsibly, sparklers can be great fun – especially for children and young people, whose first introduction to fireworks is the humble sparkler.

Safety essentials: how to light your fireworks safely

So, you’ve bought your fireworks and have planned out an incredible display. Now it’s time to position the fireworks and get ready for the show, but how are you going to light them?

A key part of the planning for any fireworks show should be how to light each type of pyrotechnic product safely. It’s not simply a matter of whipping out a lighter and running away as fast as you can – this is how accidents happen, and it could also ruin the quality of your display.

For a safe and stress-free display, here’s our guide to safe firework lighting techniques…

Portfires

Nearly all suppliers of fireworks, such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks, sell portfires. These are tubes of pyrotechnic powder which burn slowly until they reach the firework fuse. A portfire has a burn time of around 3-4 minutes, which gives you ample time to light them safely and get a safe distance away. They are used by professional firework display organisers and recommended as the best way to light your fireworks. Portfires are cost-effective as they’re usually very cheap to buy and they also provide an intense flame that resists all but the strongest rain and wind. This means your display can go ahead even in bad weather conditions.

Important tips for using portfires include:

  • Wearing gloves – they may be a safe lighting method, but it’s always a good idea to wear protective gloves when running a fireworks show
  • Keeping portfires dry – if they’re damp, they won’t work effectively or at all
  • Not keeping them in your pockets – as they have the potential to burn if a stray spark from the display should reach them
  • Having lots of portfires handy – anyone running a display should have plenty of portfires plus spares just in case of problems

Other lighting options

Fireworks fans use a range of other methods to light their fireworks, including windproof or turbo lighters. These are gas-powered lighters that produce an intense blue flame, and don’t blow out easily in the wind. Quality varies with these lighters, with some being not as windproof as they claim and others getting clogged with soot and having to be replaced.

Chef’s blow torches, a mini version of the standard blowtorch, are also quite popular as they have a large flame and can be switched on and off on demand. However, these too can be prone to clogging and being affected by the wind.

What not to use

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t used petrol-soaked rags, other fireworks, candles or cigarettes to light fireworks. All of these are either terribly dangerous or really ineffective.

A common mistake is to think that an ordinary cigarette lighter is up to the job. There are two interrelated problems with this. Firstly, you can’t operate a lighter with a gloved hand, but the flame produced is so small that there’s no way you can light a fuse without hot sparks and gas going all over your hand. Without a glove, this means a burnt thumb. Also, these lighters are very susceptible to the wind. All in all, just don’t bother – use one of the methods above.

 

Fabulous fountains – everything you need to know

So, you’re planning your first fireworks display. What kinds of fireworks should you be including? One of the first to investigate is the fabulous fountain, a staple of all the best fireworks shows and known for being a real crowd-pleaser.

Unlike other fireworks such as rockets, fountains don’t produce a large, dramatic aerial display. They are placed on the ground and fire a volcano of sparks upwards, which then pour to the ground in a gorgeous fountain shape. They create an impressive visual display and are great for use in between aerial firework bursts or to fill space near the ground.

Types of fountain and choosing the right one

First of all, you should only buy fireworks from a reputable provider. 1st Galaxy Fireworks, for example, is a member of the British Pyrotechnics Association and has built up its reputation over 23 years of experience in the industry. What you shouldn’t do is buy bargain basement cheap fireworks from disreputable suppliers that offer no clue as to their quality, safety or reliability.

Now, as to which fountains to choose – here are a few points to consider…

The effects come in many sizes, shapes and spark colours, but the most powerful and impressive are generally thought to be those that keep it simple. For example, a silver spark fountain that doesn’t crackle or offer any other fancy effects. This is because they do not waste any energy on noise, colour or both – they can put all of their power into the height, size and strength of the fountain.

There are a number of varieties of fountains too, including:

  • Conic fountains – these are the most popular type, known for their size and typical fountain shape. They tend to be quiet, only giving off a gentle ‘roar’ sound as they provide a consistent and lengthy fountain display. Why try these amazing new Cones Manufactured in Switzerland http://www.galaxy-fireworks.co.uk/shop/fountains/products/swiss-magic-light-fountain-.html 
  • Gerbs – these are more professional versions of the conic fountain, often used by professional display organisers like 1st
  • Multi-effect fountains – these fountains offer some interesting effects to delight your guests, from crackles and multi-colours to even a ‘dancing’ movement
  • Strobes and Bengal Blinkers – these increasingly popular fireworks are tiny fountains that flash on and off like a strobe light, producing very bright and exciting effects. They illuminate their own smoke, producing interesting shapes, shadows and colours. As they are so small, strobe fireworks are best used together in groups.

Using fountains in a display

Fountains are very good for quieter displays where you’re trying to keep the noise down (for example, to keep your neighbours happy). As they are quiet in operation, they can also provide a louder display with some contrast and suspense – both crucial elements for an exciting display. If you’ve got lots of aerial fireworks, fountains can provide interest on the ground and distract the audience while you prepare the next firing. They are quite different to other fireworks, so can be used in combination with other effects to create a fully rounded display.

Popping the question with fireworks – tips for a romantic, incident-free proposal

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be thinking that the time is just right to pop the big question. If you really want to make a grand romantic gesture, why not propose to a backdrop of gorgeous fireworks? This can really create the ‘wow’ moment you’re looking for, but only if you plan it carefully.

Without proper planning, things can potentially go disastrously wrong. To prevent silly slip-ups ruining the big moment, here’s your guide to popping the question with fireworks:

  1. Get permission. It’s crucial to get the go-ahead from your local authority, as well as the owner of the property or land where you’ll be setting off the fireworks. If you don’t, you could have an angry property owner or even the police interrupting your big moment.
  1. Assemble a team. If you’re popping the question, all of your attention and focus needs to be on your partner. You don’t want to be dashing away to set off fireworks at a crucial moment, or deal with issues. Rope some friends in and plan the display together, then they can manage it all at your signal.
  1. Do it safely. Read all the safety instructions, and the firing instructions, well in advance of the big day. Make sure whoever’s helping you has read them too, and that everyone knows what they will be doing. The very last thing you want is someone getting hurt, especially not your partner! There’s also the risk of damaging property by mis-firing fireworks, which could get you in a lot of (potentially expensive) trouble. This could take the shine off the big moment.
  1. Check that your partner likes fireworks. It’s tricky to do this without giving the game away, but it’s very important to find out whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is actually a fireworks fan. If they don’t like them or worse, are scared of them – your proposal may not go very well.
  1. Don’t drown out your proposal. The timing of your fireworks, just like the timing of your proposal, is absolutely crucial. Think carefully about whether you want the display to start just as you’re proposing – will this add to the drama of the moment, or will it be distracting? Will the sound of an enormous rocket going off drown out that all-important question, or even the answer? These are important things to think about. You may want to wait until you’ve proposed (and received the answer you want) before giving the signal for the display to start.
  1. What will the answer be? Of course, your partner will 100% definitely say yes – but perhaps hold fire on the celebratory fireworks show just on the minuscule chance that she doesn’t. On the other hand, you may need cheering up if your partner gives you a ‘I’ll think about it” – and you’ve paid for the fireworks, so you might as well set them off, right?

Setting up your first fireworks show? 5 rookie mistakes to avoid

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If you’re brand new to the world of running fireworks displays, there’s a lot to learn. Everyone thinks it’s as easy as lighting the fuse and standing back, but it actually requires a little preparation to create an amazing display. Here are five basic mistakes to avoid, some of which can simply be embarrassing while others can be dangerous. Take heed!

Mistake #1: Not bringing a spare lighter

You’ve got your lighter, matches or torch all ready to start your display, but what if it’s run out of gas? What if it’s been rained or won’t work for another reason? At the very least you’ll need to delay the show for a few minutes while you find another. It isn’t catastrophic, but it is a very embarrassing amateur mistake.

Mistake #2: Setting up in the dark

To run a successful fireworks show, follow this very simple rule – set up in the day, set off at night. Daylight allows you to set up your fireworks safely and according to your plan, and you’ll also be aware of any unevenness or obstacles on the ground. You don’t want to be discovering these at night!

Mistake #3: Buying suspiciously cheap fireworks

So, you come across an incredible deal online or in a local shop. You buy your fireworks, save lots of money and look forward to the big day. Unfortunately, when you try to light these mega cheap fireworks, all you get is clouds of smoke that obscure the effects and send all spectators coughing. Some fireworks won’t light or go off, while others do things that surprise you – and not in a good way. It’s not really worth saving a few pounds for if your display is ruined, is it? Always buy quality, certified fireworks from a reputable supplier. For example, 1st Galaxy Fireworks is a member of the British Pyrotechnists Association, the UK’s Association for Professional Firework Display Companies.

Mistake #4: Not having a safety plan in place

A good display is a safe display. Not having a safety plan, and the right safety equipment in place, means that you aren’t prepared if the worst should happen. For example, if something catches fire, you’d be able to extinguish it quickly and easily with a fire extinguisher. If a firework doesn’t seem to light properly and looks like it may be dangerous, you’d be able to drop it in a bucket of water until it’s safe to handle. Without these simple measures, easy-to-fix problems can turn into bigger, potentially dangerous issues.

Mistake #5: Accidentally setting off all your fireworks at once

If you haven’t properly read the instructions, communicated with your team or created a firing order, you could end up accidentally setting everything off at once. This is not only devastatingly disappointing for your audience (who will be treated to just 2-3 minutes of a display) but it can also be very dangerous.

Plan properly and you’ll have a great display! Remember that if you need advice, the experts at 1st Galaxy Fireworks will be happy to help.