There are few things as mesmerizing to watch as a fireworks display. Even though fireworks were invented in China and were originally meant for the purpose of scaring away evil spirits with their noise, today they’re popular across the world, and mostly for the purpose of pure entertainment.
And many displays across the world are beyond spectacular: there are cities and celebrations that repeatedly put on incredibly beautiful, complex, and dazzling displays, which draw tens of thousands of people, sometimes for days on end.Here is a list of the places where you can see the best fireworks displays in the world.
Australia Day is the biggest annual civic event in Australia, and marks the anniversary of the day when members of the First Fleet of British ships set foot on land there. The event is of course celebrated all across the country, with sports, citizenship ceremonies, various state honors for citizens, community barbecues, musical concerts, and of course fireworks displays.
Some of the best displays are in Sydney, at the harbor, which also hosts boat parades and races, and at Adelaide, in Elder Park, which also has a parade and a music concert. However, the City of Perth Skyworks display is probably the biggest, running for a whole 30 minutes, with choreographed fireworks launched from bridges, barges, and buildings, and drawing a crowd of over 300,000 people at the foreshore, with thousands more watching from afar. If you have the opportunity to be in Perth for Australia Day, don’t miss it.
Canada has a number of large fireworks displays that are worth seeing, including the weekly ones at Niagara Falls through the summer, and several displays across the country for Canada Day. However, the most spectacular fireworks displays in the country are at the Montreal Fireworks Festival, also known as L’International des Feux Loto-Québec. The festival takes place at La Ronde in Montreal, with pyrotechnic companies from around the world competing for trophies, and weekly shows from the end of June until the end of July. You can buy tickets to watch the displays from within the venue itself, which arguably offers the best view, but thousands of people watch them for free from various locations within the city that are known to offer a reasonably good vantage point.
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, announced its arrival to the world with a magnificent fireworks display in 2010. Since then, it has consistently put on some amazing displays on New Year’s Eve each year. However, Dubai has other displays that are also quite amazing – in fact, the 2014 celebrations involved many of Dubai’s other landmarks, including Palm Jumeirah and the World Islands, and entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest fireworks display ever. Of course, size alone is not what makes this display worth watching: the fireworks here are among the most beautiful and inventive you’ll ever see. Anyone living in the United Arab Emirates needs to watch out for the New Year celebrations here.
France doesn’t have too many large fireworks displays, and even the one in Paris on Bastille Day, which is probably the biggest display in the country, is rather small in scale compared to some of the others on this list. However, the July 14th fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower, which was resumed last year after a gap of more than a decade, has a certain elegance that doesn’t rely on massive, over-the-top explosions for its impact. In addition, having the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece of all the sparks makes the experience even more magical. Clearly, size isn’t everything, even when it comes to fireworks. If you’re in France for Bastille Day, this is one show you should definitely try to catch.
Fireworks are an important part of Diwali, “the festival of lights”, which is widely and enthusiastically celebrated across India. While the fireworks displays here aren’t on the same scale as they are in places like the US and Japan, the community aspect and other elements of the festival more than make up for the scale.
Rather than massive displays put on by professionals, with audiences only watching, for Diwali individuals, families, and local communities get together and play with relatively small-scale fireworks themselves, items ranging from fountains to sparklers to rockets. The celebrations begin a few days before the festival and slowly build up in intensity, which reaches its peak on the day of Diwali itself. The phenomenon of hundreds of people in any given neighborhood setting off fireworks every day for weeks on end does have its downsides – the noise and air pollution do build up, and can be troublesome for some people – but it has its charms too, and is worth experiencing if you’re ever in India around this time of year.
Japan doesn’t just have one or two occasions that call for huge fireworks displays – instead, there’s a whole fireworks season! Throughout the summer, there are hundreds of fireworks festivals across the country, with family and friends dressing for the occasion and gathering to eat and drink traditional street food, play traditional Japanese games like “goldfish scooping”, and watch the fireworks displays. While many of the displays are relatively humble affairs, there are some that are truly stupendous.
Tondabayashi, in Osaka, is supposed to be among the largest displays in the world, with an hour-long fireworks show that uses over 100,000 shells, and an audience of over 500,000. Other exceptional fireworks displays include the ones at Kumano, Sumida River, and Konosu (which got into the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest single firework ever, a shell weighing over 400 kgs). However, it’s difficult to pick a few out of the hundreds without missing several good ones, and throughout the course of the summer there’s likely to be a display worth watching whichever corner of the country you happen to be in.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo is the host of another international fireworks competition, the Monte Carlo International Fireworks Festival, which draws the best professionals and companies in the field of pyrotechnics from around the world, and an audience consisting of thousands of locals and foreigners. The fireworks are of course the main attraction at the festival, but there’s plenty of other entertainment as well, including a wide variety of musical performances. The festival begins in July and runs for roughly a month, with incredible displays every night at 9.30, all judged by a panel consisting of municipal officials of Monaco, notable artists, and prominent civilians, and also voted on by the public. The winner gets to return a few months later, for a repeat performance on the occasion of Monaco’s national holiday on November 18.
The Singapore Fireworks Celebrations are a new entrant on the international fireworks scene, having begun as recently as 2004. However, the festival has quickly grown in size and also gathered a lot of attention, with performances by teams from across the world, and huge audiences made up of both locals and tourists (and of course expats too). The fireworks are part of Singapore’s National Day celebrations, a commemoration of the country’s independence from Malaysia in 1965. Traditionally, there have been rallies to celebrate the event, as well as an annual address by the Prime Minister, but of late the fireworks have become an important part of the celebrations too. In 2006, the celebrations are reported to have used over 9,000 rounds of fireworks, and subsequent celebrations have maintained that count.
Taiwan clearly loves its fireworks – this little country has one of the wildest and most spectacular fireworks festivals you’re ever likely to find. Every year, 15 days after the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the district of Yanshui hosts its annual Fireworks Festival – one of the largest folk festivals in the world – supposedly to commemorate the end of a cholera epidemic over a hundred years ago. The fireworks displays here are unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else. One of the main attractions is the “beehive fireworks”, a display that is as dangerous as it sounds. Contraptions called beehives launch hundreds of bottle rockets that fly off in all directions simultaneously, including into the watching crowds. However, a rocket hitting an onlooker isn’t an accident – it’s part of the fun, and is in fact considered to be a sign of good luck. Of course, people standing in the area that’s likely to be struck by the rockets do wear protective gear, but each year several people are still wounded by rockets.
Obviously, this kind of pyrotechnic performance isn’t for everyone. If you’re in Taiwan and love fireworks but are not up for such an adventure, you can instead make your way to the Taipei 101 tower, whose display is said to rival the one at the Burj in Dubai.
The UK has two main celebrations that involve massive fireworks displays – Guy Fawkes Night, on November 5, and New Year’s Eve. Fireworks are also used as part of the Chinese New Year and Diwali celebrations, but these tend to be on a smaller scale, and limited to certain areas and communities. There are huge fireworks displays for both Guy Fawkes Night and New Year’s Eve in most major cities in the UK, and those in Edinburgh and London are said to be the best. The New Year’s Eve display in London is particularly dazzling, especially since it involves the London Eye and other iconic sights along the banks of the Thames. The celebrations to bring in 2014 were particularly unusual: Bompas & Parr, a duo of culinary artists, created a fireworks display that was multi-sensory, with peach snow, orange bubbles, and clouds of fruity aromas wafting over the audience in sync with the fireworks in the sky. Other major fireworks displays include Battle Fireworks in East Sussex, Sparks in the Park in Cardiff, and Bangers on the Beach at Holyhead.
In the US, Independence Day, which is celebrated on July 4, tends to be the celebration with the largest and best fireworks displays. In general, July 4 and the week in which it falls make up what is possibly the biggest celebration and the busiest vacation period in the year. There are numerous local parades, fairs, music concerts, baseball games, and of course fireworks displays across the country. It’s difficult to list the best events: most major cities tend to have a fireworks display that is worth watching, usually involving an important national monument or an iconic building.
However, New York City has what some say is the largest display, usually over the East River; San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge forms the backdrop for one of the most memorable displays in the country; Houston has its Freedom over Texas celebrations, with live country music and a massive fireworks show; and the Mount Rushmore display is also said to be particularly impressive.
Are there local fireworks celebrations where you live? Let us know in the comments!