In our first ever professional fireworks competition, we came second!
The British Musical Fireworks Championship held in Southport is a prestigious UK competition for professional fireworks companies. Over the years, many of the UK’s top professional companies have competed, with some going on to compete in Global Fireworks Competitions.
Five competitors came together to compete over the 24th to 26th September in Victoria Park, Southport. Each company had to submit a musical theme and a show design before the event then five judges would mark the displays over the three-night competition.
The official rankings; 1st place, Dragon Fireworks from Kent 2nd place, Sonic Fireworks from Devon 3rd place, Star Fireworks from Berkshire
We took a team of ten up to Merseyside in 3 vans and a minibus. Our show was prepped on Saturday and rigged all day Sunday next door to Star Fireworks. They fired first, followed by our display on Sunday evening.
“It was a fantastic experience. We learned a lot and had a great time meeting other pyrotechnicians from across the UK.” Mike Glover said. “Of course, it was stressful at times, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team. To come away with second place in our first competition is amazing.”
The British Musical Fireworks Championship is one of the two major competitions in the UK, with the other being The British Fireworks Championships in Plymouth. The difference between them is that the Southport event has its fireworks displays set to music, known in the trade as a pyro-musical display.
Designed on the computer with the audio track and fired wirelessly by sophisticated firing systems. Our display had a James Bond theme with a mix of old and new Bond songs also a few famous clips from the Bond actors.
Across the competition, competitors use an estimated two tonnes of explosives with a total weight of fireworks used that exceeds 10 tonnes. Each show requires around five kilometres of wire to connect the electrical circuits and 10-15 technicians working for over 12 hours to set up the display.
Spectator Michael Paice said of Sonic’s display, “Not one of but THE best display I have EVER seen, and I’m not saying that just because I’m Bond aficionado.”
Will we compete in the Plymouth Championships? At the moment we don’t know but based on our experience in Southport the crew are raring to compete some more, so watch this space!
You might think a surprise fireworks display for your wedding is a great idea. You imagine the faces of your loved ones light up with joy when they find out about the fireworks.
However, in our 20+ years doing fireworks, nothing causes us more heartache than surprise displays. In this blog post, we discuss how to do a surprise display the right way. And avoid some of the pitfalls.
We are happy to work with you to create a surprise fireworks display. However, we are not mindreaders unless you tell us as soon as possible, we can’t help. Tell us about who is the recipient of the surprise and how we can communicate with you. We will work with you to keep the surprise intact right up until the day.
Tell your loved one about the fireworks on the day.
Don’t wait until the last minute to tell your loved one about the fireworks. We might be visible rigging the display during the day and will spoil the surprise. Not many venues have hidden firing sites. We will be in our uniforms so that the venue staff and any security or officials know who we are.
By telling them early, they will have the pleasure of looking forward to fireworks. And you will still have that special moment of surprise.
Don’t let your guests leave before the fireworks.
We aim to finish rigging a display about an hour before firing to allow a little wiggle-room for problems. During that hour after set up, we are observing your wedding from our firing site. Often we watch guests leave in their cars by the dozens before the fireworks are due to start. A recent wedding had 300 guests during the afternoon, only 50 people were there to watch the fireworks in the evening. If only they knew, more would have stayed to watch the £1500 display!
Tell your guests! Announce the fireworks – make a thing of it! Encourage guests to stay and enjoy them. The anticipation of a fireworks display will excite your guests and will add energy to the evening. Those that won’t want to party into the late evening will stay for the fireworks and then leave happy that their day ended in spectacular style.
Don’t have a very late firing time if you can avoid it.
Try not to have your fireworks late in the evening as guests with children will often need to leave before. Older relatives may not want to stay up late either. It would be a shame for them to miss the fireworks!
An ideal time is during the mid-evening break. You will guarantee the most people will be there to watch the fireworks. It will act like a shot of adrenalin for guests to party for the rest of the evening. And the venue can turn around a room or set out a buffet while everyone is out watching the fireworks.
(If your wedding is at the height of summer, it won’t be dark enough for fireworks until late.)
Sometimes it’s an audience of just two!
We have fired many displays for marriage proposals that have been a total surprise for the other half. We once wrote ‘Marry Me?’ in fireworks after a football match. We once rigged a display in a farmers field in the middle of nowhere and waited for the client’s car to ‘breakdown’ by the gate so he could propose after the fireworks.
Surprise displays can be good in the right situation. Just remember to avoid the pitfalls. The single most important thing is to talk to us early on.
Sonic Fireworks has fired displays for many hundreds of Weddings over the past 20 years. Here are some of our top tips for fireworks at your Wedding.
Talk to the Venue first
Most venues do not allow fireworks and, those that do might have some restrictions on noise level and firing time. Sometimes the Venue may be uncertain about having them and will need some professional advice. Talk to them early on in your planning to avoid any disappointment. We have curated a list of some favourite venues we’ve worked at over the years see, our Venue Finder online.
Your fireworks display must end by 11 pm – it’s the Law. Around the Summer equinox (June – July), it will only be twilight at this time. The weather conditions and the aspect of the display will make a difference in how dark it is.
Some venues may put an earlier deadline such as 10 pm to appease neighbours. During June and July, the sky will be light. The fireworks will still look good but will look different than they would in a dark sky.
Don’t leave the firing time too late because guests may leave the Wedding before the display starts, especially if the fireworks are a surprise. The perfect time is during the evening entertainment break. It will allow the venue staff to reset the room or bring out a buffet while everyone is outside watching the fireworks. It also allows those with children to end their evening in style while the hardened party-goers can go back in for the late session.
More than anything else, surprise fireworks tend to cause us grief! Mainly because people forget to tell us and sometimes because it is impossible to be incognito at the Venue.
Tell us right from the get-go if you are planning a surprise and for who. We can then ensure we don’t spoil the surprise by sending an email or phone call to the wrong person.
We recommend that you tell the person early-on on the Wedding day that you have a surprise fireworks display. Then if they or guests see us setting up the fireworks, they won’t have the surprise spoilt. At some venues, our firing site is in full view of the guests all day.
Please note that it is now our policy for staff to be in uniform whenever they are working so that the Venue, farmers and authorities know who we are and what we are doing.
Bonfire Night & New Year’s Eve
If your Wedding is on or near Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve, you will likely be thinking of fireworks. However, most firework companies are busy at this time of year doing fundraisers’ and public events.
There might be an option of booking a crew for a follow-on gig. A booked fireworks crew for a big public show can sometimes do a small private display before or after the main show. Bonfire Night displays are usually around 7 pm a later, private booking could happen for 11 pm. Likewise, New Year’s Eve displays are at midnight an earlier private booking could happen at 7 pm. All of this depends on the logistics our best advice is to speak to us early.
(The firework curfew is lifted to Midnight for November 5th and 1 am on New Year’s Eve.)
Music makes the difference
We specialise in pyromusical fireworks displays and, they do elevate the experience to another level. When choosing the music, think about how appropriate it might be for fireworks. Rhythm changes and crescendos in the track are ideal for synchronising the fireworks too.
Capture the moment
Tell your photographer or videographer about the fireworks. We are always happy to advise them about where the fireworks will appear and how to get the best shots. Also, ask someone to film the audience reactions while watching the display makes for a good memory!
We work with the Venue as well as for you
Please be aware that the Venue has neighbours and a local reputation to maintain so that if they restrict the display style or firing time, they are doing so for a good reason.
Sonic Fireworks offers a style of display called Whisper Displays that are gaining popularity. These displays are reduced height and noise fireworks for sensitive venues. We spend a great deal of time and effort to ensure we can create spectacular displays with these fireworks. They are even better when set to music.
Smokes, Sparkles and Flares
We have a wide range of Smokes, Sparklers and Flares that are ideal for dramatic photographs. Sparklers are great fun for the guests to wave when watching the fireworks. These items are available from our shop.
Weddings at home with a marquee in the garden, the fireworks will probably need to be in a local farmers field unless you have a large garden or estate. We will need the landowner’s permission to work.
We strongly advise letting the local farmers and livestock owners know about your fireworks display and what time it’s firing. Let the neighbours know (they might organise a party to watch the fireworks!)
As long as we have the landowner’s permission, we fire before 11 pm – then nothing is stopping you from having fireworks.
We describe fireworks as the cherry on top of the icing, on top of the cake! In other words, very few Weddings have them. However, those that do have fireworks will create something that your family and friends will be talking about for years!
I tell you what I want, what I really, really want… More female crew members.
Sonic Fireworks is an unusual professional fireworks company in that it is not only joint-owned by a woman, over the years it has had four regular female firers. Today Michelle (co-owner) and Molly are the only regular female firers, we want that to change.
In a male-dominated industry, we are actively looking to redress the gender balance. Do you have what it takes to become a professional fireworks firer?
It’s hard work
The first thing to know is that it is an outdoor all-weather gig. This is Britain it rains all the bloody time! But you are also sometimes rewarded with a beautiful Summers evening out in the countryside.
It’s also a lot of lifting equipment from one place to another, on the plus side its a great way to get fit. Not put off yet? You might be surprised to know that there is a lot of wiring and electronics in a fireworks display. Gone are the days of lighting fireworks by hand, it’s all fired electronically.
Then there is the onsite fusing and rigging of the fireworks themselves. Making sure that the show is fired to plan takes care and attention to detail. It’s a lot of teamwork.
After the slog of set-up, lugging equipment, fusing and wiring up the firing system the display is finally ready to fire. This is the tense bit, making your final checks and waiting for the go. The adrenalin starts pumping, it’s showtime, it’s time to perform. The crowd waits, the signal is given and in what feels like a blur the display is done.
What a buzz though, really there is nothing quite like being up close and personal to a professional fireworks display. The crowd goes wild, you know you have made their evening. All that hard work is worth it. Now comes the de-rig.
It’s a lot of fun
So why do Molly and Michelle do this? Both of them say that it’s not just the excitement of working with fireworks, it’s also the camaraderie of your team.
“We have become friends, often meeting up for drinks or a beach BBQ. There’s even talk of a Sonic Fireworks skittles team!”
Large displays can be especially fun working on with a large team, sometimes all day to prepare for a show that will entertain thousands.
Sonic Fireworks is looking for two or three more women to join the team. It’s mainly Saturday evening work. There will be full training, you will be chaperoned through your first few displays. You will always work with a senior firer.
Michelle is hoping to organise girls vs boys fireworks display competition next summer where teams can compete for fun, the general public can come to watch and judge the displays.
Would you like to know more?
Fill out our online form or give Michelle an email or give her a call on 01844 849222 to find out more.