On Saturday 21st May 2016, the first stage of this highly acclaimed German International Firework competition gets under way in the midst of the beautiful baroque gardens of Herrenhausen in stunning Hannover. The Great Garden is detailed as THE most important of its kind across Europe.

The competition displays always bring huge crowds of tens of thousands of visitors to this magnificent festival which combines the fireworks show with a mixture of live and recorded music in a 25 minute long showcase.

The Teams, the country they are representing and the date when the events are taking part are as follows:

21st May 2016 – Compagnie Pok Co – France

The comparatively new company was founded only a few years ago by a group of people with backgrounds in street art, specialist lighting and circus skills bringing them altogether to create beautiful and unique effects.

4th June 2016 – IP Innovative Pyrotechnik – Germany

The company was set up in 1994 and work with the likes of AC/DC and The Stones on tour creating spectacular shows using lights, fire, acrobatics and dance along with amazing pyrotechnics.

20th August 2016 – Dance of Fire – Ukraine

Representing the Ukraine, are the team from Dance of Fire. They are the foremost pyro-technicians in their Country and have competed across Europe and overseas. This includes performances at Berlin’s Pyronale in 2008, Festival d Atlantico in Madeira in 2011 and Globalfest in Canada in 2012.

3rd September 2016 – H C Pyrotechnics – Belgium

H C Pyrotechnics is the leading firework company in Belgium. They have a range of awards and accolades but most recently they won Pyromagic 2014 and Monaco 2015. They are also responsible for organising the Knokke-heist International Fireworks Festival and providing the ‘finale’ for the competition weekend.

17th September 2016 – Firemaster Productions – Canada

Firemaster technicians have been in the business for more than 15 years and have competed across Canada, Europe and most of the rest of the World. In 2014 they competed and won in the UK’s Blackpool International Fireworks Competition.

The teams are set the task of creating a world-class pyro-musical display, lasting 25 minutes with a 4 minute compulsory section which is set to a track of the judges choosing and the music selections must tell the story as outlined in the team’s chosen theme.

There will be a full entertainment programme for all the family from 6.30pm including live music, street performers and of course you can also stroll around the remarkable Baroque gardens and enjoy a picnic.

Herrenhausen Castle was massively damaged during air-raids in 1943. It was eventually re-built and re-opened to the public in 2013.

For a unique, birds-eye look at the fireworks in action from above using a drone:


Over the next few days over a billion Chinese will be making travel plans to return home to celebrate their Spring Festival.

The Spring Festival last for over a month with the first few days being akin to our bank holidays, with many Chinese businesses closing or operating on reduced hours.

As the Moon transcends across the sky on the 8th of February it will welcome a new Chinese year, this year it is the year of the monkey.

If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, or 2004 then you are a monkey. Monkey people are well known as being wit, charm and intelligence, but are also practical jokers often mischievous and sometime a little naughty. Thanks to their outgoing and highly confident nature, people like to be around monkey folk as they tend to be the life and soul of the party.

Those born in the year of the monkey should be associated with the colours blue, white & gold, avoiding any shade of red as this may bring them bad luck.
The numbers four and nine will bring prosperity in a monkey year whilst two and seven should be avoided at all costs.

Shape shifting monkeys are believed in Chinese mythology to have been our ancestors for over two thousands of years, the Chinese being aware of our evolutionary status a long time before Darwin’s theory of evolution publication in 1838 proving we did descend from apes.

Many Chinese and Buddhist deities have been recorded in legend as taking monkey form at some time, the most famous being Sun Wukong “The Monkey King” from the novel “Journey to the West”.

One of the best places to be (apart from China obviously) to see the stunning cultural delights of the Chinese New Year celebration will be China Town in London. Between Old Compton Road and Leicester Square, the atmosphere will be colourful and noisy to say the least. Starting of the 4th of February, London’s first Chinese lantern festival descends on Chiswick House and gardens on Burlington Lane W4 London, for five weeks. On display will be more than 50 life-sized lanterns resembling Zebra’s, Kangaroo’s, Flamingo’s, a sixty metre Dragon and even a full size Elephant crafted from bamboo and paper. There will also be a number of other activities; from traditional Chinese street/performance theatre to art and lighting installations.

The “Enchanted Forest” is set to be a big hit as gigantic mushrooms, plants and flowers will amuse all ages, I imagine it to resemble the set of “Alice in wonderland” when Alice meets the Caterpillar.

Tickets are £16 for adults, £10 for children. As always parking can be an issue at large events, but either Turnham Green Tube station or Chiswick station will drop you off close by.

On 14th February there will be a ‘Grand Parade’ which incorporates ten ‘lion’ teams in what is set to be Europe’s biggest lion dance which begins at 10am from Trafalgar Square via the West End and on to Chinatown. At mid-day, the stage performances get under way with traditional dance troupes, acrobats, dragon and flying dances, opera and martial arts performances.

As the day comes to a conclusion, there will be a Grand Finale at 5.20pm as Monkey dancers and acrobats take to the stage to celebrate the year of the Monkey and stunning pyrotechnics will illuminate Nelson’s Column.

All of the finest Chinese restaurants will be booked up shortly so to avoid missing out on the celebrations with the family, book your place now.

It only remains for us to say ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’ (Mandarin) or ‘San Nin Faai Lok’.

2016 Chinese New Year - Year of the Monkey


As the year of the red monkey grows closer is Manchester one of the best places in Europe to welcome in the New Year. A big claim but can Manchester pull this off?

Of course they can! Whilst the Chinese New Year celebrations officially begin on the 8th, the fun and games in Manchester start on the 4th February 2016.

Between Thursday and Saturday the whole of the front of St Ann church in St Ann’s square will feature a cutting edge light show interspersed with traditional art work and film to tell the story of the history of the celebration, created by local artist Stanley Chow, this will be an unforgettable audio-visual experience for all ages.

For those feeling a little peckish around St Ann’s square, look for a huge red opulently decorated marquee as local favourites Yang Sing and Rice Bowl will be offering tantalizing food and drink.

Those “in the know” will have heard of the world-famous “Tsingtao Dragon” beer (pronounced Ching Dow), formally an illegal Chinese Mafia pastime, was beer ping-pong. Keep your eyes peeled for a special pop up beer tent with a ping-pong playing robot. Challengers will have the opportunity to win gift ranging from t-shirts to a full-sized ping-pong table, but start practising now as this robot does not like to be beaten.

On New Cathedral Street, a food village comprising of colourful food carts will be set up so visitors can experience the traditional food and drink of the orient offering authentic sushi, sticky rice and other traditional favourites.

On Sunday 7th February 2016, in Albert Square, the atmosphere gathers momentum when at 12’ o’clock a massive 172 foot dragon dances to music before starting its parade at 1pm. Between 2pm & 5pm, the excitement moves to China town as music, dancing and story-telling takes to the stages before the fireworks at 6pm.

Around Market and Exchange Street’s over the festive period, a huge golden dragon will oversee events. Get a picture of him, tweet it to #chinesenewyearMCH for a chance of winning a £500 voucher to spend in Manchester airport.

Parkour ‘monkey runners’ will be demonstrating their skills with breath-taking stunts while the RareKind Hong Kong street graffiti artists ‘Rainbo’ and Uncle colour the streets with huge creations reflecting the tradition stories of the Chinese New Year.

For those visiting Manchester’s Arndale centre, this will be transformed into myriads of craft workshops as children will be encouraged to create their own monkey related masks and cards. A great deal of effort has been put in to ensure there will be something for everyone to enjoy or marvel at as over 90,000 people are expected to descend on Manchester city centre over the Chinese holiday period.

Already we have dispatched orders across the country in readiness for the big night as Chinese families make preparations for New Year’s parties, doing it in Epic style.

In the meantime, enjoy the fireworks from the Year of the Horse.

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