Since 1989 the Town of Tultepec in Mexico has played host to this incredible annual event which continues to fascinate and amaze, but not always for the right reasons!
This festival has within it all the necessary ingredients to make it unmissable for those who are visiting or live in the area – loads of fireworks, fun, delicious local food (mmmm …. Mexican) and more than a small tinge of danger. Held in honour of St John, patron Saint of Firefighters (good job really!), hospitals and medical staff, the town of Tultepec is home to around 120,000 people (in the whole municipality) and around a quarter of them all work in the fireworks industry.
One of the main features of the feast is ‘The Pamplonada Pirotecnia Toritos’ where over 200 hand-made ‘firework bulls’, packed to the rafters with around 400 fireworks each and stand at around 10 – 12 feet high – HUGE. As the bull is pulled into the town square, the fireworks are lit and all hell breaks loose as one after another are fired. The locals find themselves in the midst of explosions going off at all angles so not for the feint of heart but in the UK the firework police would be all over it – think in terms of the Sussex Bonfire Societies and you are on the right track.
There are over 6 hours of constant entertainment and all manner of crackers, mechanical fireworks (Catherine wheels) alongside the pyro-musical offerings. Let’s face it, with crowds of over 100,000 expected there has to be plenty of entertainment on offer:
Pyro musical competition
Rides and amusements
Open air concerts
Traditional and contemporary dance
Mass lantern release
WHAT: The 26th National Pyrotechnic Festival 2014 WHERE: Tultepec, Mexico WHEN: 1st March to 10th March 2014
Each year, visitors flock to the region of Tultepac, Mexico between the 1st and 10th March for the National Pyrotechnic Festival.
This year’s event is the 26th of its kind and is held for St John, patron saint of the Pyrotechnics Guild.
This week-long spectacular includes some weird and wacky events including the Castillo de Torre or Tower Fireworks Competition and a magnificent Musical Fireworks Competition featuring seven of Mexico’s best firework display teams. Unfortunately, the event is not yet open to international competitors, which is a bit of a shame but the week is packed full of fun and fireworks of all types including mechanical, musical and the ‘burning of the bulls’.
Throughout the week, there will be fireworks, rides and attractions including small ‘toy’ fireworks, pyro musical competition and of course a number of other fireworks displays.
One of the main features of this magical occasions the ‘Pamplonas’ which translates as the ‘running of the bulls’ which involves 250-300 bull shaped wagons loaded with thousands of rumble down the cobbled streets and always firing pyro in each and every direction. If you aren’t moving pretty sharply you could end up being hit by the person by trying to dodge the rockets, flares and firecrackers.
Not for the faint-hearted as you could no doubt see from the pictures but a fabulous event nevertheless.
The city of Tultepec in Mexico has a very unusual way of celebrating their favourite saint. They strap a whole load of rockets and fireworks to large wooden bulls and the brave young men of the city dance around them as the rockets fly all over the place!
Tultepec is the Mexico’s home of fireworks, with more fireworks makers there than you can shake a rocket stick at with about 80% of the country’s fireworks produced there since the 18th century. San Juan de Dios is the patron saint of firework makers and a week-long national pyrotechnic fair commemorates him. He is famed for rescuing patients from a burning hospital. Nowadays firework manufacturers pray to San Juan to protect their workshops and keep them safe from fire. The annual pyrotechnic fair was started in 1989 to safeguard the rich history and promote the skills of the pyrotechnicians of Mexico.
Firework “Castillo’s” or castles are fashioned in the shape of bulls and other animals in light wood. These are then covered with paper and decorated and painted. They are completely covered in fireworks and rockets and the young daredevils (madmen) jump around them and shout FIRE! FIRE! As they wear only hoods and thick jumpers to protect themselves. The bravest men will stand next to the bulls for as long as they can, it is a matter of pride to stand right next to the exploding structures. Needless to say, there are often injuries and minor burns are very common serious burns, sadly are also rather common.
It’s a bit ironic that to honour the saint who saved patients from his hospital, saved them from burning, the locals burn themselves. Surely San Juan de Dios did not like people burning? Or else he would not have saved them? This is the way of traditions however and logic is not always required.
Check the videos, say wow at the madness you see there and please please do not try any of this at home.