Alchemy Fireworks

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Merry Christmas from Us to You!

As we head into the festive season, Alchemy Fireworks would like to wish all of our customers – past, present (and future!) the merriest of Christmas’s and the happiest of New Years. 2017 promises to be a great year for Alchemy as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. From humble beginnings in our tiny little unit in Hertfordshire to firing amazing displays for clients such as Leeds Castle, Thorpe Park and the RHS. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey so far and long may it continue. Merry Christmas!

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How to get your dog ready for Fireworks this New Year’s Eve

If you’re a dog owner, it’s likely that you dread the time between October and New Year’s Eve, especially if your dog is one of the 45% who displays signs of stress whenever there’s a fireworks display happening nearby. Having worked with a number of clients who worry about their dogs, we’ve put together a survival strategy for you to help your dog through the firework season and see him back to his happy, care-free self.

 

Check if there are events happening near you

Knowing how close fireworks displays are happening to your home will help you to plan your arrangements for helping your dog. It’s good to check the website of your local council authority to see if there are public displays happening, as well as politely asking your surrounding neighbours if anyone’s planning a New Year’s Eve display.

 

Exposure therapy

Slowly expose your dog to the sounds of thunder, loud bangs and fireworks gradually, using a CD. Initially play it at a low volume whilst you give him treats, play a game or give him some fuss. If you have the time to gradually do this, it’ll help you to build positive associations to the firework-like noises as you turn up the volume to a point where your dog will tolerate the noise.

 

Wrap them up!

Try using an anti-anxiety wrap on your dog, but try to get him acclimatised to wearing one before New Year’s Eve. Some studies show that dogs find comfort in the wrap’s constant and gentle pressure, similar to swaddling a baby. Signs of anxiety such as hiding, shaking, drooling and panting may be reduced with an anti-anxiety wrap.

 

Build a doggy den

Crate training your dog is incredibly useful for a number of reasons, including if your dog gets anxious during firework season. Build a doggy den for your dog to hide in. Keep it in the centre of your living room, away from the walls and windows. Leave the door of the crate open, put a comfy dog bed in there, along with lots of blankets for burrowing, tasty treats and some well loved toys.  Then cover the crate in more blankets to muffle the sounds of fireworks outside.

 

Give your dog an action movie film night

Action films with plenty of explosions, gun shots and loud noises are quite effective out masking the noise of the fireworks outside. Make sure your curtains and doors are closed, turn up the surround sound and give your dog an action movie film night to see in the New Year.

 

Act normally

When your dog is upset, it’s all too tempting to comfort him and make a fuss of him, but this will only cement in his mind that he has something to worry about and could even make his anxiety worse. The best way you can help your dog is to act normally around him, showing him there’s nothing to worry about. Ensuring you’re as relaxed as possible will help your dog to mirror your mood.

 

Additionally, you should never tell your dog off for being scared or nervous as this will make the entire night significantly worse for both of you.

 

Take an early walk

Help your dog to relax by taking him for a walk when it’s still light outside, giving him food a couple of hours before the fireworks will start and provide him with lots of fresh water. Although you’ll be walking your dog when it’s light outside, make sure your dog’s collar fits correctly and his microchip has your current contact information on it, just in case the worst happens and he runs off.

 

Whilst we at Alchemy Fireworks love a good display, your dog definitely doesn’t want to be at a fireworks display as you try and get him to face his fear.

 

Visit your vet

If your dog expresses extreme fear and anxiety during fireworks season, you may want to consider visiting your vet. They may give your furry friend an anti-anxiety prescription, or suggest an Adaptil pheromone plug-in that will help to soothe and calm him.

 

Signs of canine anxiety

There are a number of ways you can tell if your dog’s stressed out during fireworks season, including:

  • Shaking
  • Barking, howling, whining or growling
  • Cowering and looking for somewhere to hide
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Decreased activity
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Excessive scratching
  • Going to the toilet indoors
  • Yawning
  • Loss of appetite

 

At Alchemy Fireworks, we understand that sometimes, you may want quiet fireworks that don’t cause as much stress and anxiety to nearby dogs, pets and wildlife. Our quiet fireworks are the best way to have a stunning fireworks display this New Year’s Eve without stressing out neighbouring animals.

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Throw the Ultimate Firework Party this Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is undoubtedly the best night of the year to throw a party, an event where you’re guaranteed lots of people will show up and mingle and talk to each other without really having to do much. The best firework parties are fun for everyone, regardless of age, and a good fireworks display will provide the perfect conversation starter for the night. Once your guests have talked at length about your fireworks display and the food, they’ll soon be in their own conversations as you relax and enjoy your success.

You can create a great firework display even if you don’t have a massive garden by choosing fireworks that have been designed for home use. Alternatively, if you have the space, investing in a larger display will definitely be worth it. Your clearance should be at least 5 metres for a small display and between 25 and 40 metres. You will then need another distance of the same length as a fall-out area.

Types of fireworks to include

The best firework displays contain a wide range of different fireworks, including:

  • Cakes – essentially a group of Roman candles taped together. You only need to light one fuse to set them all off.
  • Mines – Like Roman candles, but shorter in duration, mines all set off in one go or a few at a time.
  • Rockets – Rockets are classic fireworks and an integral part of any firework display.
  • Fountains – Slightly quieter than other fireworks, fountains shoot wonderful plumes of stars into the sky.

 

When putting together your firework display, try to make sure there’s as much as variety as possible. Don’t set off all your fountains or rockets at the same time as this will leave people looking at the same spot in the sky. Three minutes of the same fireworks will become boring very quickly.

 

Safety first!

Safety should be your number one concern when you’re hosting a firework display, and there are a number of things you can do to minimise the safety risks that come with a fireworks display.

  • Increase your clearance zone if the wind is blowing towards your guests
  • Securely stack the fireworks into the ground until they’re in tight and don’t wobble
  • Keep a few buckets of water close to hand
  • Research first aid on treating burns
  • Carefully read the instructions of every individual firework and make sure every part of the firework has gone off – particularly with cakes. If it only partially goes off, leave it for half an hour before dousing it in cold water and ensuring no one goes near it

Food and drink

November is a cold month, and close to the depths of winter. This means it’s time to stop with the finger food and offer some hot and comforting autumnal food. Chilli is always a great choice, as are hotdogs, burgers and cheesy chips.

 

If you want to make use of your Halloween pumpkin, you could make a creamy and spicy pumpkin soup, perfect for any vegetarians or vegans in your group. Offer a range of hot chocolate, teas and mulled cider for people to drink and everyone will be feeling great.

 

Don’t worry if cooking isn’t your strong point, though. You can easily ask people to bring a dish of food with them, this way you can massively cut down on your washing up afterwards and you will know for certain that everyone will be able to eat something they love.

 

The bonfire

No bonfire night celebration is complete without a bonfire. After the wonder of your firework display, the bonfire provides the perfect centre for people to sit down, discuss the night’s highlights and eat the wonderful food that’s on offer. Glowing embers are perfect for catching up with old friends and learning more about new ones. If you have space for a firework display rest assured you have space for a bonfire.

 

If space does come at a premium, a bonfire just a couple of metres in diameter will be perfect, just make sure there are no overhanging tree branches or shrubs nearby. If you’re looking to build a large bonfire, you can make one over 6 metres.

 

At this point, you can dig a shallow hole where you plan to start your bonfire, lay down a circle of stones to contain the bonfire, or you can do both. It’s good to remember that if your bonfire will be taking place in your garden, you will need to fill the hole and reseed it or re-turf the area.

Wooden pallets are ideal for bonfires as they will let air get to the bottom of the bonfire and create a good updraft. Wooden logs are also a good choice for your bonfire and you should stack them in the same style as a log cabin, leaving plenty of space between the logs and the centre. In the centre of your logs, put in newspaper and other kindling materials.

 

You will need to find someone to watch over the bonfire throughout the night. This is to ensure no one falls or children get too close to it, and also to ensure that it doesn’t go out before the end of your party. It will need feeding more logs and kindling regularly throughout the night, and if you want your bonfire to be going until the morning, looking after it is essential.

Decorations

You can create a wonderful and inviting atmosphere with just a few simple decorations and finishing touches that will really make your guests think you’ve spent all day getting ready. Outside fairy lights leading your guests to your party is a small but effective way to welcome everyone, and as it gets darker, you may find their invaluable for helping people to find what they’re looking for.

 

Make sure you have piles of blankets close to hand around your party. It helps to make people feel comfortable and relaxed and as it gets colder, they’ll become essential for keeping warm, even if you do have the bonfire too.

 

Finally, place some apples and squashes (including pumpkins) in strategic places to really give your party an autumn feel. Everyone loves a good bonfire party and at the end of the night, you can rest assured that all your guests will be talking about your party for weeks.

Find the perfect fireworks for your bonfire party with Alchemy Fireworks. Call us on +44 (0)8000 66 58 37 or get in touch with us online.

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Host the Perfect Summer Bonfire Party!

summer bonfire

Whilst many of us think of bonfire parties and fireworks as an essential part of autumn, there are few ways to celebrate in summer than having a laid back and relaxed summer bonfire party with your close friends and family. The long, warm evenings are perfect for enjoying the outdoors and spending quality time catching up with your loved ones, and once it gets dark you can continue the night with a fireworks display to remember.

Bonfire parties are also incredibly easy to throw together. The fireworks and bonfire mean that people will mainly be in your garden rather than your home, so you don’t have to worry about your house looking immaculate. In just one afternoon, you can quickly throw together a summer bonfire party that looks as if it’s been carefully planned for at least a week in advance.

Decorations

One of the joys of bonfire parties is that because they’re held outside, you already have natural surroundings of plants, trees, shrubs and grass to act as the perfect decorations. Everyone appreciates bunting, as long as you place it where it’s not at risk at catching light from the fireworks and bonfire, and fairy lights offer a magical atmosphere in the twilight.

If you really want to make the most of your decorations, additional lanterns and candles on tables will offer warmth, as well as provide more light as the night gets darker.

For bonfire parties being hosting in your garden, creating a fire pit is the safest way to start your bonfire, and you can easily construct one by digging a shallow hole. Before you create your fire pit, make sure it’s not underneath low hanging branches and away from your house.

Once you have your fire pit sorted, you need to make sure you have enough firewood to last the night – the last thing you’ll want is to run out before your night is over. Not only will it mean that your warmth is gone, but it’ll dampen the overall atmosphere.

Food and drink

No party is complete without some sort of food and drink on offer and summer bonfires are the same. Of course, you could always ask all your guests to bring a drink or a dish with them, and it’s definitely a good way to save more money for your fireworks. If you’ve decided to serve food and drink yourself, nothing beats a good old fashioned barbecue.

Drinks like Pimm’s and sangria will definitely get you into the summer mood, and having a cocktail bar set up will ensure everyone has a drink they love. If you want to update your barbecue a bit, why not look to pulled pork and similar dishes? Burrito and taco bars are also a great idea – that way everyone can make delicious food that’s exactly to their taste and you don’t have to remember who does and doesn’t like sour cream!

Comfort

As the evening wears on, it will start to get a bit cooler, even you started in the middle of a hot and sunny day. Simply make sure you have a number of warm blankets easily accessible for when the sun goes down. Besides, there are few things as magical  as sitting by a bonfire, wrapped up in a warm blanket as you watch fireworks. They also allow you to keep the party going on for longer.

S’mores 

These American imports are too much fun to lump them in with food and drink, so we’ve given them a section to themselves! This magical combination of sweet crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate is a classic at every American bonfire and it’s really not difficult to see (or taste) why. If you want to shake things up a bit, you can always try using different types of crackers or biscuits, flavoured marshmallows and different chocolate.

Why not have a range of s’mores experimentation and encourage your guests to try out different combinations. No matter what people choose, you can be sure these will be a hit with guests old and young.

Choosing the perfect fireworks

Choosing your fireworks should be the one part of your night that you spend a lot of time preparing. Whilst you’ll be hosting a private display, you need to ensure that you’re not endangering your guests, your property or the property around you.

Fireworks are designed to have a safety distance, which can be as small as 5 metres, so the good news is that you can set them off with not that much room needed. You also need to remember that you pay for quality for fireworks, so it’s always best to avoid buying the cheapest. One great way to bring the people at your party together is to ask for people to contribute towards the fireworks – that way, you can easily afford high quality fireworks and everyone can have a really special night.

You also need to remember that not many people will be expecting fireworks in the summer. If you have neighbours, it’s a good idea to let them know your plans ahead of time so they can look after their children or pets if they have any. By buying fewer, high quality fireworks, there won’t be as much noise – allowing your party to have a great time whilst minimising any noise problems for your neighbours.

Things to remember for your garden fireworks

These tips and advice will come in handy for anyone planning to set off garden fireworks, especially if you’re hosting a summer bonfire party

  • Category 2 fireworks shouldn’t be underestimated because they’re smaller – they still have the power to injure and badly burn people. Keep safe and ensure they can’t fall over before you light them.
  • Never let children near the fireworks, whether they’re still unlit or have already been used
  • Always read the instructions on all the fireworks you plan to light before setting them off. It’s quite common for people to place smaller fireworks upside down, especially fireworks that have come from selection boxes.
  • Never leave any unused fireworks in or near the display area. Keep them far away and safely covered up.
  • Make sure that no one at your party tries to hold a firework. Even small fireworks can cause a lot of damage.
  • Despite this, it’s common for people to become complacent with small fireworks so make sure you have a first aid kit and a bucket of water to hand, just in case something goes wrong.
  • Safely and carefully dispose of your used fireworks.
  • Unless you have the space and can set up the appropriate safety measures, you shouldn’t risk including a few display fireworks – the risks are just too big.

 

There’s something uniquely special about summer bonfire parties – the great company , food, drinks and fireworks will give everyone long-lasting fond memories to look back on, as well as helping you to look forward to autumn and Bonfire Night, with its impressive fireworks, large bonfires, crunchy gold leaves and toffee apples.

For more information about the services at Alchemy Fireworks and how we can help you to organise a professional fireworks display, simply get in touch or call +44 (0)8000 66 58 37 today.

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Wedding vows and wedding WOWS!

Alchemy Fireworks provide many wedding fireworks displays throughout the summer. More and more often we get asked for quiet wedding fireworks displays at noise sensitive venues – usually because of nearby neighbours or livestock. When cleverly choreographed to music a quiet fireworks display can be equally as impressive as it’s noisier counterpart! We have a dedicated wedding fireworks website at www.alchemyweddingfireworks.co.uk . It contains lots of useful information that you need to consider when planning to have a fireworks display at your wedding as well as information on the packages and prices that we offer.

Wedding displays are usually much more personal than large public events. We’ll meet the bride and groom fairly early on and guide them through the process from putting the music together for their display, taking on board any ideas they have for the show or effects that they want to see, right through to firing their display on their big day and seeing their reactions. Here is just some feedback that we’ve recently received;

Feedback 5

Feedback3

 

Below are just three of the wedding fireworks displays that we have recently provided. The first one for Emily and Fazz used quiet and noisy fireworks but the last two videos were quiet fireworks displays choreographed to music. I’m sure you’ll find that they are equally as impressive as a full on display!

 

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  • Fireworks at Leeds Castle classical concert
  • Fireworks at Leeds Castle classical concert
  • Fireworks at Leeds Castle classical concert
  • Fireworks at Leeds Castle classical concert
  • Fireworks at Leeds Castle classical concert
  • Shell set-up at Leeds Castle concert

Concert at the Castle

Saturday saw Alchemy Fireworks produce 3 magnificent displays to 3 separate pieces of music at the Leeds Castle Classical Concert. This iconic event was held in the most spectacular location and natural amphitheater in front of the beautiful Leeds Castle. The concert not only featured so many popular classics, that audiences have come to associate with the event, but the audience also enjoyed the addition of some of John Williams’ most iconic film themes.

We also had a new host, Aled Jones MBE, who presented this magnificent and memorable concert, the highlight of the Kent event calendar.

The concert celebrated its 38th year with a wonderful programme of music and entertainment from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by John Rigby. Also performing were, The Definitive Rat Pack; the world’s finest interpreters of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.  Soloists Frances McCafferty and Anthony Flaum and the P&O Ferries Choir also be returned to the stage.  This fantastic night of patriotic flag-waving finished with a spectacular firework finale by Alchemy Fireworks. Firing to live music has its challenges – nothing can be pre-programmed because an orchestra can play the pieces at slightly different speeds to recorded versions. So it’s a case of knowing the music, and the performance of the fireworks, off by heart. Needless to say, we bought a little Alchemy magic to the event and the fireworks were met with rapturous applause and cheers!

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Flower Power!

Monday took us to Hampton Court for the RHS Flower Show Gala Preview evening. Our 7th year of firing the display and it was a return to a purely classical mix of music combined with a very closely choreographed show and lighting and projections from STL Production Group. You can read more about this display here.

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Funk Soul Brother!

We were delighted to be a part of the Summer Soulstice festival’s 10th anniversary this year. Choreographed to a bespoke mix of music provided by the client the 4500 strong crowd were treated to a closely choreographed display featuring tracks from The Jacksons and Prince.

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History repeating……

In Britain, we associate fireworks with Bonfire Night, in France they’re used to celebrate Bastille Day and we all know how much Americans love fireworks to celebrate every occasion, but have you ever wondered how the first firework was created? We all enjoy a good fireworks display; it’s one of the few things in today’s modern world that still has the power to bring us together as a community. Despite most of us thinking that fireworks were invented to celebrate Bonfire Night, their history goes back thousands of years and is far more exciting than you can imagine!

A happy accident

The first mention of a firework comes from China, about 2000 years ago. There’s a legend that a Chinese chef accidentally knocked some saltpetre into a cooking fire, which caused an interesting flame not seen anywhere else, and in an act of pure serendipity, invented the firework. Saltpetre was used as a flavouring salt and is still an ingredient in gun powder. Along with saltpetre, other gunpowder ingredients, such as sulphur and charcoal were commonly found around ancient cooking fires. This mixture of ingredients produced an extremely beautiful flame in a fire and would explode if placed into a bamboo tube.

Between 960 and 1279, in the Song Dynasty in China, exploding firecrackers were produced by Li Tian, a Chinese monk, near the city of Liu Yang in the Hunan Province. They were designed to be detonated at the beginning of the New Year in order to scare away evil spirits, and were made by filling bamboo shoots with gunpowder.

Nowadays we focus on the shapes and colours of being the most important part of a firework, but in medieval China, they focused on the loud noise for early religious fireworks (known as ‘bian pow’ or ‘gung pow’), as this was essential for scaring away the evil spirits.

By the time of the 15th century, fireworks are recorded being used in a wide range of celebrations, including weddings and military victories. Whilst we see the birth of the firework in China, the modern firework that’s we recognise was most likely invented in India or the Middle East.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is one of the most important discoveries in human history, changing everything from war to infrastructure. Whilst it can be used as an explosive, it’s far more commonly used as a propellant. Since the 9th Century it was made by mixing saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal; the charcoal often came from the willow tree, but a number of other woods have been used, including:

  • Pine cones
  • Elder
  • Grapevine
  • Laurel
  • Hazel

More recently, sugar has been used as an alternative to charcoal to act as the fuel component in fireworks and other pyrotechnics.

When these ingredients are carefully ground together, a powder called ‘serpentine’ is created. Due to these ingredients needing to be mixed before they’re used, gunpowder was extremely dangerous to make without modern safety measures.

Chinese arrows

As well as using gunpowder as an explosive in their firecrackers, the Chinese utilised gunpowder combustion as a propellant. In 1279, the Chinese used hand-carved wooden rockets, in the shape of dragons, to shoot rocket powered arrows at the Mongol invaders.

Explorers of the time took their knowledge of gunpowder and rocket powered arrows back home with them, with records in the Middle East talking of Chinese arrows as far back as the 7th century.

Along with the crusaders, Marco Polo is widely credited with bringing gunpowder (and fireworks) to Europe in the 13th century.

Fireworks in Europe

By 1377, fireworks we being used in the bishop’s palace at Vicenza to accompany a religious mystery play. Soon, fireworks were regularly used in the representation of angels or the Holy Spirit, as a way to demonstrate them ascending to Heaven or descending to earth.

A couple of centuries later, the popularity of fireworks had increased exponentially and they were commonly used for both military purposes and in peacetime. Spain and Italy in particular started using firework displays as part of numerous outdoor celebrations. Vannoccio Biringuccio, an Italian metallurgist described the festivities in Florence and Siena for feast days as including whirling, decorated wheels that had been packed with fireworks suspended from ropes as entertainment.

A cause for celebration

Over time, fireworks were used more often to celebrate great events. From the late part of the 15th century (and even to this day), fireworks at Italy’s Castel Sant’Angelo have been used to celebrate the election of a new pope. Descriptions of the fireworks in the late 15th century stated that the finale of rocket fireworks “Constructed so that after they have moved upwards with a long tail and seem to be finished they burst and each one sends forth anew six or eight rockets”. It was definitely a world changing experience for those who saw it, with the fireworks being compared to the fires of hell or the heavens coming down to earth.

Moving into the 16th century, fireworks were being used for festivals throughout northern Europe with a large variety in the styles of firework display. They were mainly spectacles designed for the nobility and royalty, celebrating their actions and adventure, using elaborate scenery with monsters, castles and a wide range of pyrotechnics.

The coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533 was celebrated with a “great red dragon continually moving and casting forth fire” and a host of “wild men” on barges in the Thames, wielding fire-clubs. Her daughter, Elizabeth I greatly enjoyed firework displays throughout her reign.

In Germany, fireworks were used to create pyrotechnic pantomimes, with giant dragons and fire-spouting whales engaged in mock battles. In France, however, they enjoyed fireworks that resembled stars and the sun, lions to represent the constellation Leo and many other astrological inspired displays.

These magnificent firework displays could cost a fortune to create and were a source of both marvel and terror- for many people firework displays remained a novel experience.

Modern firework displays

The 1800s saw an end to the kind of courtly politics and extravagant displays due to more of a focus on economising pyrotechnic displays, leading to simple displays of coloured light in the 20th century. Today, however, we see fireworks fairly regularly often, so it takes a lot to impress us. Fireworks set to music, designed to create letters, numbers and shapes, as well as lancework and firerope.

At Alchemy Fireworks, our experienced team of pyrotechnic technicians will work with you to ensure you have everything you need for an exceptional firework display. To find out how Alchemy Fireworks can take your display into the next age, call us today on +44 (0)8000 66 58 37 or contact us online.

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