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5 essential things you need for the perfect Bonfire Night

1st Galaxy Fireworks Bonfire Night

Not long now! Bonfire Night is nearly upon us, so now’s the time to start planning your special night. If you’re having an event at home, here are the 5 essentials you need for the perfect party…

  1. Fireworks!

We wouldn’t be 1st Galaxy Fireworks if we didn’t put fabulous fireworks at the very top of this list. A bonfire is great, but Guy Fawkes Night is nothing without an amazing display of light, colour and special effects to delight young and old alike. If you have pets, remember that they don’t tend to like fireworks so arrange for them to stay at a friend or family’s members for the evening.

As for which ones to choose, make sure you have the classics – cakes, rockets and Catherine wheels.  If you don’t know which ones to go for, consult one of the team at 1st Galaxy or choose a display pack containing a number of different fireworks designed to last a certain amount of time.

  1. The ‘bonny’

While fireworks are an important part of any 5th November celebrations, a crackling bonfire is essential. However, it isn’t as easy as you may think to get one lit and to keep it going. It can be very disappointing, as well as a bit smoky, for your guests if the fire keeps going out. You’ll need dry wood, dry ground, lots of kindling, logs and plenty of space. Set up your bonfire a safe distance away from spectators and fireworks, using something like wood pallets as the base as they allow air to circulate. Avoid using any sort of accelerant to light your bonfire, just have patience and tend it carefully. Keep children away and have a fire extinguisher on hand to stop your fire getting out of control. Lastly, keep it small – you don’t need a huge fire for a small party.

  1. A guy

It’s only tradition to have some sort of ‘guy’ or effigy to burn on the bonfire towards the end of the night, so set the kids to work on making one in time for the big night.

  1. Sparklers

These fantastically fizzy fireworks are great fun, but you must use them carefully. They burn hotter than you’d imagine, so children must always be supervised and sparklers should be kept away from the bonfire. Never put them in pockets, keep them away from eyes and always make sure they are extinguished properly when the sparkle has fizzed out.

  1. Warming comfort food and hot drinks

There’s nothing better to warm the cockles on a chilly autumn night than a mug of sweet hot chocolate, or a mulled wine if you aren’t the one in charge of the fireworks or bonfire. Pair this with hot dogs, burgers, baked jacket potatoes or hot soup, while the kids enjoy some cotton candy or toffee apples for that fairground feeling (even if you’re holding your Bonfire Night party at home). Remember though, you should never ever use fireworks or tend a bonfire if you’ve had alcohol – safety first!

Lasers, live music and burning effigies – how to make Bonfire Night 2017 REALLY special

It’s a little way off, but there’s no time like the present to start planning a truly special event for this year’s Bonfire Night on 5th November. If you’re tired of the usual sparklers and underwhelming bonfire, why not try something a bit different?

Here are 4 unique ideas to make this year’s Guy Fawkes celebrations really go off with a bang…

  1. Burn an effigy

It sounds a bit odd if you’ve never seen such a sight before, but burning an effigy is an integral part of the UK’s Guy Fawkes night celebrations. Some children still make a ‘Guy’ and accost passers-by for a ‘penny for the Guy’ but it’s a tradition that’s largely been forgotten, and even fewer people burn the Guy on the bonfire on 5th November.

However, recent large celebrations like Burning Man arts festival in the Nevada desert and Green Man Festival in Wales have started to bring the tradition of burning a large effigy back to popularity. For your event, you can get the kids or even the community involved in making your effigy, then delight in seeing him burn at the close of your event. It’s a really dramatic and unusual way to top of a fantastic night of fireworks. Remember, the bigger the effigy the better!

  1. Choreograph your fireworks to music

If you’ve made your fireworks bigger and better each year, you may think there’s nowhere else left to go in order to wow your audience. But have you tried putting your fireworks to music? Choose a bombastic song or a more unusual track and have a fireworks specialist such as 1st Galaxy plan out a choreographed display. Such a display can be rousing, inspirational and even moving, depending on the music you choose – your audience will absolutely love it. If done right, it can turn a normal fireworks display into something approaching a work of art.

  1. Book a live band

It’ll take some careful planning, but you can use a live band to choreograph your fireworks display for a truly stunning performance. It’s a lot of work to time the music and the pyrotechnics perfectly, and you’ll need to work closely with your chosen band. It also won’t be cheap, but for a big event such a spectacle is bound to get lots of press attention (for both the event and the band) and be remembered for years to come.

  1. Throw in some lasers

You might think that it has to be one or the other, but lasers and fireworks can actually go really well together. With the help of an expert, you can create a fireworks light show just as impressive as the memorable 2008 Bonfire Night display (complete with lasers) in Glasgow.

If you need advice or simply want to know if your wild ideas for Bonfire Night 2017 are feasible (not to mention affordable), contact the knowledgeable team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks.

Why fireworks are the perfect choice for corporate events

Fireworks are the ideal choice for all sorts of celebrations, but they can also be the icing on the cake for corporate events. Whether you’re planning a product launch, conference, networking event or other celebration, fireworks are exactly the spectacle you need to create a memorable moment.

Here are just a handful of the many reasons to consider a spectacular fireworks display for your next brand event…

Fireworks are fantastic for publicity

If you want to make a splash with your event online, you’ll need something exciting, extravagant and that looks amazing in an image. Fireworks fit the bill perfectly. They photograph like a dream and make your event seem like the party to attend. This can boost attendance figures for next year, as well as raising your brand’s profile online. Make sure you hire a fantastic photographer and someone to handle social media on the day, so you can tweet and post live from the event to really whip up some excitement about it.

Surprisingly, they’re great for networking

You might think that due to the noise of a display, fireworks aren’t the best choice for networking at a business event. Actually, the opposite is the case. They create a fantastic opportunity for bonding between team members and new acquaintances alike, as everyone can share the excitement and thrill of the display. There’s no need to sit quietly as per a keynote speech or performance – everyone can chatter away freely covered by the background noise of the display.

Of course, fireworks are impressive

What is your number one priority at a corporate event? Obviously, it has to be impressing your guests. You want them to leave after having had a really positive and fun experience, and you also want them to take away a good impression of your brand. Fireworks tick both of these boxes, being both a spectacular piece of entertainment and a demonstration of your company’s hospitality (and let’s face it, prosperity).

They also offer branding opportunities

When you choose corporate event specialists like 1st Galaxy Fireworks to plan your fireworks, you also get the chance to personalise the display. This means you can customise the pyrotechnics used in the display to match your brand colours. This is ideal for the launch of a new product, and your guests are bound to be impressed.

You can use fireworks to reward your team

Fireworks aren’t only a good choice for customer-focused events. You can also use them as part of Christmas parties, end of year celebrations or full company conferences. If you want to reward your staff for all of their hard work, celebrate hitting a big target or a company landmark, this is a great way to do it. To put it simply, if you want to celebrate – choose fireworks. Your team will absolutely love it, and they’ll really appreciate the company splashing out on a display just for them.

The world’s most spectacular fireworks displays – which is the biggest, best and loudest?

1st Galaxy Fireworks When it comes to fireworks, we’re always looking for the biggest, best and loudest – but which of the many jaw-dropping displays around the world takes the title of most spectacular? Let’s run down 10 of the best, including record holders and NYE celebrations…

  1. The grand opening of the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai. When what was known as the world’s tallest building had its grand opening in 2010, the momentous occasion was marked with an amazing fireworks display – which has continued every New Year’s Eve since. What makes this display so incredible is the sight of fireworks being fired off the building from top to bottom, creating a vertical display that bathes the whole structure in light and colour.
  2. NYE in Sydney, Australia. Every year, organisers of the fireworks in the skies over the Sydney Opera House aim to outdo themselves with ever more elaborate displays. Millions of people watch these enormous, lengthy and extravagant celebrations, illuminating the city’s most famous structure along with the harbour and bridge.
  3. Konosu on the Island of Honshu in Japan. On October 11th, 2014, the island of Honshu embarked on an ambitious challenge – to break the Guinness world record for the largest firework launched. Organisers fired an enormous 460kg firework called ‘big heavy’ into the sky, which exploded into an breathtaking 800-metre ball of light.
  4. Washington D.C. – 4th July. Another spectacular annual display takes place in the skies above the National Mall in Washington D.C. every 4th July, to celebrate Independence Day. The U.S. is not to be outdone by other displays, making each year’s event even bigger, brighter and louder.
  5. Thunder Over Louisville. Every April, a deafening fireworks display is held in conjunction with an airshow to kickstart the annual Kentucky Derby Festival. Despite lasting just half an hour, each year the display manages to use a massive 60 tons of pyrotechnics.
  6. Palm Jumeirah and World Islands, Dubai. In 2014, a total of 479,000 shells were set off on two artificial islands in Dubai, in just 6 minutes. This broke the world record for largest firework display, but has lost the title since.
  7. Church Of Christ, Philippines. On the 1st January 2016, the Church of Christ stole the title of world’s largest fireworks display with its epic NYE celebrations. Nearly double the number of fireworks were set off compared to the previous record, a jaw-dropping 810,904. The display lasted just over an hour, and took place in the pouring rain.
  8. London Olympics 2012 – opening and closing ceremonies. London had many previous Olympics hosts to compete with, but held truly spectacular fireworks displays for both its opening and closing ceremonies in 2012.
  9. Montreal International Fireworks Competition. This is the largest fireworks competition of its kind in the world, lasting an entire month and featuring hundreds of professional display organisers showing off their most creative 30 minute shows.
  10. Diwali, India. Watching the fireworks during the Diwali ‘Festival of Light’ celebrations can be a thrilling experience. Relaxed health and safety rules compared to the UK can make this festival a little hair-raising, but find somewhere out of the way to watch and you’ll find it adds to the excitement of the occasion.

10 things you need to photograph fireworks like a pro

Capturing fireworks on camera is not as easy as you may think. The human eye may see every glorious colour and sparkling effect very clearly against the night sky, but what comes out on camera is a confusing blur.

So, what’s going wrong? Let’s take a closer look at the 10 things you need for crystal clear firework photography:

  1. A good viewpoint. Get to the venue ahead of time to pick the best spot to start snapping from. You need a clear, unobstructed position, and need to decide what you want as the backdrop to the fireworks and whether you want spectators in shot or not.
  2. The right camera. Unless you have a smartphone with an extremely high-spec camera, you’ll probably not have much luck with firework photography. You may need to buy or borrow a professional camera with adjustable settings such as shutter speed, a choice of camera lenses and manual lens focusing.
  3. A tripod. The best fireworks shots are those that are taken with a steady hand, or the use of a simple tripod.
  4. Good timing. There are two things to remember here, the first being to shoot at just the right time to capture the full effect of each firework. You should also get most of your shots at the start of the display, just in case the atmosphere starts to fill up with smoke or haze.
  5. Knowledge of fireworks. Have a chat with the fireworks display organiser beforehand to get a running order for the show, which lists all the fireworks to be used. This will help you with the point above – timing. Using knowledge of firework types, you can anticipate the trajectory and explosion point for each firework – so you capture each at its best.
  6. A wide-angle zoom lens. According to TechRadar, this lens set at its widest focal length is the optimum choice of lens to get all the fireworks in the frame.
  7. A remote release. Even if you’re using a tripod, you can still end up jostling the camera to start each exposure – but not if you use a remote release button.
  8. Time to focus. One of the problems you’ll face photographing fireworks is automatic focusing struggling to keep up with the display, changing all the time. A good photographer will know to set the focus beforehand and then turn automatic focusing off, which means leaving some time to prepare at the start.
  9. A head torch. Fiddling with camera settings in the dark can be tricky, particularly when you’re under time pressure with the next firework ready to fire. Take an LED head torch with you – you’ll find it very handy.
  10. Patience. Becoming a great fireworks photographer takes time, practice and experimentation to get your camera settings and timing just right. Get a few events under your belt and you’ll be a pyrotechnics-snapping pro in no time!

 

The chemistry behind explosively beautiful fireworks

We’ve all seen fireworks displays, and many of us have even set off these popular pyrotechnics before. But have you ever wondered what makes them go bang, or how all of those colours, sparks and amazing effects are created? It’s all down to clever use of chemistry.

Early fireworks

The very first recorded use of fireworks was believed to have been in China and India, where fireworks were created using gunpowder or black powder. This highly explosive substance is created when potassium nitrate (also known as saltpeter) is mixed with sulphur and other organic fuels like charcoal. Gunpowder was mainly used by the military for weapons and explosions, but chemists soon found another use for it – fireworks.

For fireworks to work properly, they need to contain a number of things. One of these is an oxidising agent, for which potassium nitrate works perfectly. They also need fuel, and this need is met by the charcoal and sulphur.

Beautiful colours and astounding effects

There are also a few extra ingredients that go into making the fireworks that we know today. The first is crucial, as it creates the vivid colours we love in modern day fireworks. These stunning effects are created by metal oxides and metal salts, which act as colourants. When the firework explodes, it does so in an explosion of intense heat – which creates incandescent light. The temperature of fireworks can be controlled, so as to heat the metal oxides and salts so that they emit particular colours of light at just the right time.

Also in the mix are effects pellets, or globs of explosive material that when ignited, create the many breathtaking fireworks effects audiences love.

All of this is contained within a binding, with a fuse connected to a bursting charge which sets the whole thing off.

People have now been using fireworks for big celebrations for hundreds of years. This means that pyrotechnic chemists have had plenty of time to develop ever more creative, elaborate and spectacular effects through the combination of different chemicals.

How fireworks explode

What you see when fireworks fire into the sky and explode is actually a couple of different steps. The firework is placed in a tube (called a mortar) with a lifting charge containing black powder underneath. When this fuse is lit, the ignition of the black powder forces the firework skywards.

Immediately after, once the firework is airborne, a timed secondary charge goes off. This ignites the black powder within the firework itself, leading to an intense chemical reaction which releases the effects pellets with explosive force. This is the explosion you see when a firework goes off.

The timed secondary charge is a very important part of the firework, as it ensures that this violent explosion – exciting to watch as it may be – only happens when the firework is at a safe height away from spectators. It also fires the firework into the dark night sky, against which the lights and colours of this amazing chemical reaction can best be appreciated.

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!