Tips Archive

Wedding fireworks – a guide to planning picture-perfect pyrotechnics  

Summer wedding season is here, which means a flurry of sunset fireworks displays marking the close of a thousand special days. If you’re currently hunkered down planning your own big day, fireworks are an important consideration.

Here are 6 crucial points to remember when planning your own show-stopping wedding fireworks display:

  1. Consider the season

If you’re holding a summer wedding (in summer 2019, for example) you’ll need to keep an eye on what time it gets dark. A sunset fireworks display can be extremely beautiful, but you may also want to wait until it gets properly dark – without it being so late that you fall foul of local authority rules. Timing is crucial with this one!

  1. Will your guests be able to appreciate your fireworks?

This is another point about timing. If you stick with tradition and wait until the end of the night for your display, will your guests (and the happy couple themselves) be in a fit state to really enjoy them? If you’re concerned about spending money on entertainment that may not be fully appreciated, perhaps hold your display earlier in the day. It can be an unusual surprise to have fireworks in the daytime, such as when the newlyweds are first announced to their guests or following a reception toast.

  1. How long should the display be?

This largely depends on budget, but you should also think about value as well as the comfort of your guests. For example, if you’re planning a December wedding, you don’t want to keep your freezing guests outside for too long.

  1. Is your venue happy with fireworks?

Not all venues permit fireworks so you should always check very early in the planning process, especially if you’ve chosen a more unusual venue in which to tie the knot.

  1. Check in with your photographer

Capturing fireworks on film is not as easy as you may think, and most people who try end up with blurred, over-exposed images unless they have the right experience and equipment. Professional wedding photographers should be able to do a decent job though, so have a chat beforehand so that your photographer can make their plans. You may even want to shop around for photographers with this in mind.

A final point to consider on this is that not all photographers stay into the night, with many clocking off after the first dance. If you’d like the photographer to capture the display, you’ll need to make arrangements (and set some budget aside) in advance.

  1. Who will manage the display?

We’d always advise getting someone in to manage the fireworks display if it’s a wedding. You and your guests will want to relax and have a drink, and it goes without saying that people who’ve had alcohol shouldn’t be anywhere near fireworks.

It’s usually best to leave the responsibility of running a beautiful, safe display to the professionals. Just give the 1st Galaxy team a call on 0115 8559000 if you’d like to discuss options for your wedding fireworks.

What to do if a firework doesn’t go off (and what not to do)

1st Galaxy Fireworks

You’ve spent weeks and months planning the perfect fireworks display and the big night has finally arrived. The audience is in thrills of anticipation as the first firework is lit. But what if it doesn’t go off?

A fizzled-out firework can be an anti-climax to say the least, but what should you do to stay safe and save the show if the unthinkable happens? And how can you stop it happening in the first place? Let’s take a look at what to do, and what not to do, if a firework doesn’t go off.

Do not approach the firework

Your first instinct when a firework doesn’t go off is to pop back for another look. This is absolutely the worst thing to do, as it could suddenly go off unexpectedly and cause you very serious injury. People have suffered burns and other injuries by returning to a firework in this way. They imagine they can simply relight it, but you just can’t take the risk that the firework could suddenly go off.

Leave it overnight and Soak it in water

The best way to deal with a ‘dud’ firework is to leave it until the end of the night. As long as it’s safe to do so and you have enough space to relocate the firing zone, you can carry on with the rest of your display. Just remember to avoid that area completely, and you could even tape or mark it off so that spectators don’t stray near. Before the end of the night, completely soak the firework in water from a safe distance and then completely submerge it in water for as long as you can. However it is not permissible to throw live or part fired fireworks into a natural water source, such as a river, or pond, in order to avoid any contamination by the explosive powders contained inside, so please avoid doing this.

In the morning

The next day, you can either take it to the local landfill so long as the firework you soaked the night before is completely wet through and has been rendered useless so far as being able to be ignited again, or it is permissible to dispose of with your household domestic rubbish. You can also call fireworks experts such as the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team for advice on the next step to take.

How to avoid ‘dud’ fireworks

When you buy from a reputable supplier selling certified, quality approved products, you shouldn’t have a problem with dud fireworks. If you buy cheap, you usually get what you pay for. Fireworks sold on websites that lack credibility or are offered at bargain basement prices can produce a lot of smoke, may misfire or may fail to go off altogether. Buy quality and you won’t need to worry about fireworks that don’t go off.

Other ways to avoid dud fireworks in the future include:

  • Always storing fireworks in a safe, dry space and in their original UN packaging boxes, and do not drop or miss handle them.
  • Checking the sell-by date on fireworks – for example, if you’ve bought them from somewhere dodgy or you’re unsure of the age of the fireworks
  • Read all instructions about safe and correct lighting of fireworks.

Remember, if you ever need help with buying, storing or lighting fireworks, the 1st Galaxy team are on hand to help. We’re passionate about firework fun and safety, so we’re the ideal place to turn if you have a question or need some advice. Just get in touch – call on 0115 8559000 or email sales@1stgalaxy.co.uk.

Planning a big public fireworks display? Here’s how to create an event management plan

For small-scale displays in back gardens and local communities, you don’t usually need to complete a detailed health and safety risk assessment or event management plan. All it takes is some background reading on how to use fireworks safely and some planning into safety on the site.

However, for large-scale public events where you’re expecting thousands or even tens of thousands of people to attend, you need to do some serious planning. An event organiser is responsibly for the safety of everyone in attendance, and there’s also plenty to do to ensure the display comes off smoothly and really wows those crowds. Here’s a handy set of pointers to help you start your event management plan:

  • Call in a specialist. Once your event reaches a certain size or scale, you’re going to need specialist help. This is especially important if you plan to use fireworks in a category that can only legally be fired by professionals. A specialist display organiser such as 1st Galaxy can use their expert knowledge to plan, advise and run the display for you on the day. This means it is guaranteed safe – in everything from use of fireworks to site layout – and also guaranteed to have the wow factor you’re looking for.
  • Engage the local authority. Contacting the local council with details of your plans should be one of the first things you do. The local authority must be informed and they may also require details of your full event management plan, insurance and risk assessments – especially if the display is taking place on council land.
  • Conduct a health and safety risk assessment. This must be very detailed, including details of every possible hazard to health and safety and how you will minimise or eliminate the risk. You also need to include a fire evacuation plan, details of access points and capacity limits on the site, and a plan for emergency situations.
  • Site planning, including access and safe firing, fallout and spectator zones. At an early stage in your planning, you should produce detailed site maps showing which areas will be for firing, fallout (where the fireworks will drop) and spectators. Plus, where fireworks will be stored and all access points. You need to make sure that everything is a safe distance apart.
  • Look into road closures, security and interaction with emergency services. You may not need to close roads or employ security services, but these are definitely things you should think about. You will need to work with local police and fire services if your event is a large public display though.
  • Monitor the weather. Fireworks can be affected by the wind, as can any gazebos, food stands or other structures on your site. Include a bad weather policy in your plans to prepare for any weather-related problems.

This may all sound like a lot of work, but it is your responsibility as an event organiser. And when you see the first spectacular pyrotechnic shoot into the sky and the reaction of the crowd, it’ll all be worth it!

Please don’t hesitate to contact 1st Galaxy Fireworks if you need our help at any stage of your planning.  

Your essential guide to fireworks categories and classifications

When shopping online for fireworks, you’re likely to have come across information about which category a particular pyrotechnic product is classed in. This info is important, as it tells you all about how and where a firework should be used, and who is allowed to buy and use it.

Up until the middle of 2017, you may have seen fireworks marked with the British Standard (BS) certification. However, this has now been phased out in favour of the following fireworks categories:

  • Category F1. This category is for fireworks that present a minimal risk, so it is usually used for products that are designed for use indoors. One of the most popular types of Cat F1 fireworks is the ice fountain, which are both safe and impressive for use on birthday cakes and for parties.
  • Category F2. These are fireworks that are on sale to the general public, and differ from Cat F3 fireworks only in the explosive power of the product – which affects the safety distance required. Cat F2 fireworks require an 8-15 metre distance between the spectators and the firing zone, depending on the product.
  • Category F3. Just like Cat F2 fireworks, these products can be bought and used by members of the general public. However, they usually require a safety distance of at least 25 metres.
  • Category F4. This category is for fireworks that are only to be used by professional fireworks display organisers. Members of the public cannot buy and use them, as they are more powerful than other products and can be dangerous if used by someone without the right knowledge, experience and training.

On the subject of safety distances, most products now recommend leaving at least 25 metres between spectators and the firing zone just to be on the safe side. However, this doesn’t mean that most F2 and F3 products aren’t suitable for use in the garden provided there is enough space available.

Where to find important category and safety information

When you buy fireworks online, you’ll usually find info about the category of the product in its description. Retailers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks will only sell Category F1, F2 and F3 fireworks, and will not sell F4 fireworks to members of the public.

Information about the firework will also be displayed on the product itself. You will usually be able to see the category of the firework, along with a warning about age restrictions if applicable. Each product will also come with detailed safety information for storing and using the firework safely. If you are planning a display, it’s crucial to read all of these instructions carefully before the big day.

Finally, fireworks packaging will often tell you what to expect in terms of the performance. The label or leaflet will provide details on the effects, including how many shots and what kind of colours and finished to expect.

Have a question about fireworks categories or safety when using fireworks? Please feel free to contact the experts here at 1st Galaxy Fireworks.

Forget Christmas – now’s the time to start planning your NYE fireworks

At this time of year, everyone is busy preparing for Christmas. Winding down at work, shopping for presents, cleaning and decorating the house and planning Christmas parties. In all the Christmas chaos, it’s easy to neglect the planning for the next big day of the year, which happens just a week later – New Year’s Eve!

It wouldn’t be NYE without fireworks, of course. Whether you’re planning your own display or you’ll be heading out to an organised event, here’s what you need to be doing right now to get ready for the big night…

Buy your fireworks

It’s important not to leave it too late to buy your NYE fireworks, particularly if you have certain products in mind. Fireworks are much in demand at this time of year and some of the most popular pyrotechnics and best value bundles are bound to sell out quickly. If you get them ordered now, you can avoid the mad rush just before Christmas and you’ll know you’re all set for NYE.

Find somewhere dry and safe to store fireworks

Ordered your fireworks? If you’ll be storing them for a few weeks until New Year’s Eve, you’ll need somewhere appropriate to store them. It needs to be dry and away from anything flammable, as well as any source of ignition. Fireworks should also be kept away from children and anyone under 18, so keeping them in a locked shed or cabinet could be a very sensible idea.

Get your equipment ready

If you’re setting off the fireworks yourself, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment to make sure you can manage everything safely. It’s a good idea to get hold of:

  • A good torch – head torches or wall mounted ones are recommended, as they keep your hands free
  • Gloves and other PPE – to stay safe when lighting fireworks, some good gloves are essential. Optional extras of personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be worth looking into.
  • Portfires and lighters – a long-tipped lighter can help to keep your hands away from sparks, but the best way to light fireworks is with portfires. These are tubes of pyrotechnic powder which burn for a few minutes before setting off the firework and you can light them with an ordinary lighter. However, a wind-proof lighter (as well as a spare) would be a smart purchase.

Sort out your venue

If you’re setting off fireworks in your back garden, now is the time to think about how you will use the space. You need to leave enough space between the firing zone and where the audience will stand, as well as thinking about the ‘fallout’ zone.

Inform your neighbours

A simple knock or note through the door to let your neighbours know you’ll be having a NYE display goes a long way to preventing complaints and bad feeling – you can even invite them along!

Find a local display

If you’re not setting off your own fireworks, now is a good time to research what displays will be happening locally and snap up tickets before they sell out.

How to create your own personalised pyromusical

What’s better than a jaw-dropping fireworks display? One set to music, of course! A pyromusical display can charge simple light and sound effects with real drama and emotion, turning a normal fireworks show into something truly memorable. Audiences absolutely love it.

What’s even more special about fireworks set to music is that they are perfect for personalisation. You can create your own bespoke pyromusical to add a personal touch to weddings and birthdays, as well as corporate events when you want to tailor the display to your brand and message.

Here’s how a personalised pyromusical comes together…

It’s all about the song

Unfortunately, not all pieces of music are suitable for soundtracking a fireworks display. Some may not be upbeat or punchy enough, while others may not offer the moments of musical emphasis that a pyromusical needs. An experienced display designer such as the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks can advise you on whether or not your chosen song will work well, as well as mixing your music to make it more suitable for the display. Choose your song carefully, remembering that those that work best include:

  • Fast, high energy songs
  • Famous classical pieces of music – for example, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries
  • Power ballads and slower, dramatic songs
  • Themed songs – for example, Prince’s Purple Rain or Yellow by Coldplay where firework colours can be themed to match
  • Music that features timing to the beat
  • Songs which change tempo mid-way through – perfect for varying the display and creating drama and anticipation.

If you’re designing a display for your wedding, go for a song that has personal meaning for you and your spouse. It’s helpful if your audience is familiar with the music, and be careful with songs that feature swearing if you’re aiming for a family-friendly show.

Designing the display

Unless you’re a fireworks professional, you’ll find it difficult to plan a pyromusical display yourself. Both firework selection and timing need to be perfect to make it work, so you’ll need to call in an expert such as 1st Galaxy. The good news is that with your input, a professional can make use of the latest software and their own years of experience to create a bespoke display that matches the music. You can choose the colours and advise of your favourite fireworks, and of course you’ll have chosen the music. Once you’re happy with the display, you can even choose to be the one to start the whole thing off – pressing the button that will electronically fire the first firework on the night.

Further options for personalisation include customised fire writing, so for weddings the names of the happy couple can be emblazoned in the sky. You can even have the faces of bride and groom appear in the sky – a truly spectacular effect!

If you want to take control of your big night and help to design a bespoke pyromusical display, contact the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team to discuss your ideas.

10 handy tips to remember for fireworks night 2017

bonfire night 2017

Organising a fireworks display for Bonfire Night 2017? You’ll no doubt be making all of your last-minute preparations as we speak, from preparing the site to promoting the event.

Now is the time to run through an essential checklist of tips and considerations to make sure your event runs smoothly, safely and spectacularly. Here are 10 important questions to ask yourself as you plan the big night:

  1. Have I read the instructions? Don’t wait until Bonfire Night to read the instructions for firing your fireworks, not only because it’ll be dark and difficult to see what you’re doing. Sit down and run through the directions now, so you know exactly what you’re doing when the time comes.
  2. Have I got some water nearby? It’s always a good idea to have some water and a fire extinguisher on hand in case of embers, sparks or other unexpected issues.
  3. Am I using an illegal category of fireworks? If you’ve somehow managed to get hold of Category 4 fireworks, you absolutely mustn’t use them at all. These are strictly only to be used by professional firework display organisers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks.. We recommend you report these or ask your local firework specialist for advice.
  4. Is there enough space between spectators and the firing zone? Planning out your site properly is very important, and you must leave a safe distance between your audience and the space where you’ll set off the pyrotechnics.
  5. Do my team know how long to leave a dud firework before approaching? If a firework doesn’t do anything after lighting, never approach it right away. Leave it at least 20 minutes and still approach with extreme caution.
  6. Is everyone aware that they mustn’t smoke or drink when handling fireworks? Smoking near fireworks is extremely dangerous, as is a display being managed by anyone who is intoxicated. Tell the team or volunteers who are working with you to save the drinks until after the display.
  7. Is my display planned for the right time? It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am at any other time of the year, but on Bonfire Night the cut-off point is midnight. Make sure your display doesn’t fall foul of these rules.
  8. Do I have a wet weather plan? If it rains on Bonfire Night, your display doesn’t have to be a washout. Follow these tips to keep your fireworks dry and make sure your spectators have somewhere to shelter.
  9. Have I informed the neighbours? You don’t have to do this, but it is considered a courtesy to let people who live near the venue know about the display in advance. After all, pets and small children can be very upset and distressed by the loud noises of fireworks.
  10. Do I have the right lighter? It is recommended to use a long-tipped lighter when lighting the fuses for your display, as this helps to protect your hands. You may also want to consider other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles.

What if it rains on Bonfire Night 2017? How to beat the elements on 5th November

Bonfire Night 2017 1st Galaxy Fireworks

Bonfire Night happens in November, so realistically – there’s a very good chance that it could be a wet, cold and windy evening. It may turn out to be dry and clear, the perfect conditions for fireworks.

As an event organiser, you need to prepare for every possible weather-related scenario. Just because it rains, it doesn’t mean you can’t put on an amazing display! Follow these tips to beat the elements on Bonfire Night…

Protect stored fireworks from the damp

If the weather’s horrible in the days leading up to your display, fireworks that aren’t stored properly can be damaged. The last thing you want is to take out your fireworks on Bonfire Night and find that they are damp and won’t fire! To prevent this from happening, make sure you store your fireworks somewhere dry and secure, but don’t make the mistake of keeping them near sources of heat or ignition as this can be very dangerous.

Use stickers to find the fuse in the dark

Even with a good quality, bright torch, it’s easy to lose a fuse in the dark of a night-time display – especially if it’s pouring down and you have rain running into your eyes. Make life easier for yourself by sticking a fluorescent sticker on the fuse beforehand so that it shines brightly in the dark.

Consider your guests

As soon as rain is looking likely for the big night, get in touch with your spectators to reassure them that the event is still going ahead. Many people will assume that your display will be rained off, so they won’t come unless you let them know.

Arrange some shelter and cover for your guests so that they can watch the display without getting completely soaked, even if it’s only buying a job lot of see-through umbrellas for them to use! Warming drinks are a must, along with a roaring bonfire if the rain holds off for long enough and you have dry materials for burning.

Waterproof your fireworks for firing in the rain

You may think that you can’t fire fireworks in the rain, but that isn’t strictly true. You can use a pro trick to beat the rain such as wrapping your fireworks carefully in cling film to keep them dry while they’re being fired. Don’t use a plastic bag – as this can lead to condensation inside which can damage the product. You’ll need to consult an expert on this or do some research to make sure you do it properly, and bear in mind that only certain types of fireworks are suitable for the cling film method. You’ll also need to use a portfire to safely burn through the cling film.

Remember, if you don’t feel confident doing any of this, bring in an expert to help. The 1st Galaxy Fireworks team will be happy to offer you some advice, so get in touch.

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.