Category Archives: Festival of Fireworks



2016 marks the 18th Catton Hall Festival of Fireworks and it continues to get better and better year on year. The competition was introduced in 1998 and has never looked back.

Catton Hall is a Georgian house built-in the late 18th century and the lands have belonged to the current occupiers’ family for over 600 years. The Hall, whilst a family home is also widely used for weddings, corporate events etc and of course is open to the public during the summer. There is a huge diary of events which take place throughout the year from early February to the latter end of September.

The house has 15 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and multiple reception rooms which have been lovingly restored and remain in the care of the current occupiers Robin and Kate Nielsen. It is a grade II listed beauty which holds portraits of King’s Charles I, Charles II and James II. The owner of the building, was a close friend and confidant of the three Kings and James II was of course the son of Charles I, who’s father was the man destined to be assassinated by Guy Fawkes.

The same architects and builders created the beautiful Stanford Hall in Leicestershire. The ‘Manor House’ in Catton was also referred to in the Doomsday Book written in 1086. There is also an ancient oak in the mature woodland around the site so it is a lovely place to have a walk around.

Jubilee Fireworks have been the motivating force in charge of organizing this fascinating event and continue to be a major player in the display fireworks field and over recent years, they have taken the international stage by storm.

International acclaim was theirs following wins at Monaco, Manila and Knokke Heist which are considered in the industry as some of the hardest fought international awards lifting the highly coveted Gold Jupiter Award.

Competing this year is the team from Hamex Pyrotehnika, Slovenia. Established in 1991, they are retailers of consumer fireworks along with display fireworks for both private clients (weddings), corporate events and they also carry out a lot of film, TV and theatrical work. Once again, a team of this calibre have had their fair share of success in international competition taking part again at Knokke Heist, Ignis Brunensis and they even took the runner-up prize in Shanghai.

Next up, Selstar Firework, Chichester was established in 1995 by Peter Cooper who had been a pyro technician from the late seventies when he fired for the Selsey Community Bonfire Society. In 2013, Peter retired, handing the reins over to Stephen Harriot who has continued in the same vein. Their order book reads like a book of who’s who, having fired for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, on the London Eye for the Eve of the millennium celebrations and of course, numerous businesses, schools and community associations across the region.

Final competitors are Alchemy Fireworks of Bedfordshire which was established in 2007. The teams are fully proficient in all areas of pyrotechnics, including of course, displays, close stage work, lancework, daytime fireworks and lasers/multimedia shows. This team first competed at Catton Hall in 2011 and are thoroughly looking forward to showing their wares.

There will be concession stands for food and refreshment and there is plenty of wide open space to enjoy.




From late July to early September, the night skies over the whole of Japan will be illuminated with fireworks at some point.

Most of the festivals and events around the country are for the giving of thanks and appreciation for the prosperity in their own regions. On the whole, they will all include fireworks and parades as a matter of course but this is not the end of the matter. Each festival brings in hundreds of thousands of spectators and of course, funding to each area. The parades will generally include the carrying of the local deity (Kami) through the town on a Palanquin – aka Mikoshi (a carried cart). This is the only time of the year when the Kami will leave the shrine.

Most of the festivals include a huge number of fireworks in all forms but there will be a large concentration of the super shells Japan is famous for. There will be food concessions all day, various performances of traditional dance and music and even dragon boat races.

The area of Kyushu for example, where they hold the Sasebo Seaside Festival they launch super shells which have a burst which is more than half a kilometer across reflecting on the water. They also hold a massive ‘tug of war’ competition.

Over in the Nagaoka, the first day of their summer event is dedicated to the 1486 people who lost their lives on 1st August 1945 during the bombing of the area by American allies. There were many more casualties of the war and in fact, Japan lost over 2 million people during the hostilities. The Nagaoka Rehabilitation Festival began one year after the end of the war. During the daytime, they hold a parade where the children of the region carry a wooden statue of Jizo through the village where fresh water is splashed over it for good health. As evening falls, a 25 foot high pyramid created with 3,300 lanterns which look like a giant glowing Christmas tree. The late evening of course, is packed with beautiful fireworks.

feathers fireworks

Over in Huis Ten Bosch, there is the largest Theme Park in Japan which has been operating for more than 20 years. The area has been created to look like a Dutch town. In spring, the area is covered in pink tulips. Come summer, the tulips are replaced by huge yellow sunflowers.

Come the evening, the area becomes a magical Kingdom of Light at around 6.00pm with an organic electroluminescent display (fairy lights to you and I!!) a carriage parade and bright lights illuminate the streets, castles, palaces, canal and of course the Dutch inspired windmills.

Another ‘must see’ is the Night Garden featuring 5000 sunflowers lit by LED lights. Fun is never far away and you can spend the afternoon with the family at the water park which has a huge outdoor pool and two super slides.

Beautiful KujukuShima are a large bunch of small islands off the coast off the Nagasaki Prefecture where there is also an aquarium and you can take a boat tour around the islands. The place is the setting for the opening scenes from Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai.

Of course, as you would expect, the fireworks on display will be nothing short of magnificent, particularly as the Japanese are the masters of the big shell or ‘Warimono’. There are fireworks competition, festivals and displays all over the country from late July through to early September which are mostly for the entertainment of spectators. Collectively, they represent the whole of Japan and individually, they are in support of their local shrines, the people and the individuality of the region.


Festival of Fireworks 2015

WHAT: Festival of Fireworks 2015
WHY: It’s a fireworks competition
WHEN: Saturday 5th September 2015
OPENING TIMES: Gates open at 5.00pm
WHERE: Catton Hall, Derbyshire
WHAT TIME DO THE FIREWORKS START: The first fireworks display will start at 8.30pm

This is the sixteenth year of competition and it features some of the highest calibre of pyrotechnics in the UK. The event is the brainchild of super display specialists Jubilee Fireworks and it goes from strength to strength every year. All of the displays are all set to music and really it’s a get together to see some of the best pyro available to our industry and of course, to see what has been brought to the table to add that little something out of the ordinary into the mix.

Whilst the gates open at around 5pm, spectators generally arrive on site from around 6.30 – 7.30pm and there will be concessions in effect but everyone is encouraged to bring seating, blankets, and a picnic and let the whole family just enjoy an evening of fantastic entertainment. There is some ‘pre-display’ entertainment which will be detailed closer to the time.

All of the competing displays are around 10 minutes each accompanied by music and lights and the first display gets under way for around 8:30pm with a break of around 10 minutes between to allow for set up etc.

The competitors this year are HC Pyrotechnics, Sirotechnics and Dragon Fireworks, all of which have a brilliant pedigree in the fireworks field having won some of the biggest accolades in International Fireworks competitions.

A little about the competing teams:

H C PYROTECHNICS – One of Belgium’s premier firework companies who organize a firework spectacular at home called ‘Knokke-Heist International Fireworks Contest’ which brings together some of the best pyro teams in Europe to fill the skies between 19th and 27th August. Sure to bring lots of colour to the event this will be one to watch.

SIROTECHNICS – Birmingham based display specialists. One of the less experienced teams headed by the dynamic Simon Harding but that said, having won the British Musical Firework Championships in 2013 and they continue to surprise and amaze with unique and innovative features in their display. Renowned for bringing something special, keep an eye on these boys.

DRAGON FIREWORKS – Surrey based display team who create ‘out of the box’ displays resulting in some truly magical results. The team have worked on a wide number of displays including Ringo Starr and a number of displays for Silverstone Grand Prix race circuit events.

Last, but by no means least the organizers of the event, JUBILEE FIREWORKS. Formed in 1987 they are a major driving force in UK pyrotechnics being previous holders of both the Southport British Musical Fireworks Championships and the British Firework Championships in Plymouth.

The venue, Catton Hall, has been owned by the same family since 1405 with the present hall built around the original property in 1740. Standing on the banks of the River Trent it is a magnificent site open to the public with a wide variety of events throughout the year.

Close to Birmingham and Leicester it offers a number of places to visit around about, especially being on the edge of the Derbyshire National Park.

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