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UK Festival of Fireworks 2011

Let’s be honest, there are now quite a lot of firework festivals and competitions in the UK. Some of them have been around for decades, and some of them have popped up over the last few years. We’ve always turned down invitations in the past, but when the organisers of the UK Festival of Fireworks approached us again this year we decided that it would be an interesting opportunity to try out some new effects, sequences, music and ideas. Firework displays – like all forms of art and entertainment – are subjective, and we were also attracted to the Festival of Fireworks by the fact that there’s no jury of “firework experts”, no voting, no winners and losers – it’s just 4 great 10 minute pyromusical displays put on by people who love spectacular fireworks and watched by people who love spectacular fireworks: what’s not to like?!
Alchemy Fireworks display director Glenn Plume decided that it was “in for a penny, in for a pound” and put a lot of time and effort into the entire process, from meticulously designing the soundtrack and show, sourcing bespoke material, and preparing every effect for maximum reliability; not to mention an epic amount of FireOne programming (1,000 cues). The soundtrack was varied: from a fun Wallace & Gromit intro to the powerful Canto della Terra, Requiem for a Tower, Reet Petite and finishing on the blistering Rocky training montage.
Thanks must also go to all our team of expert pyrotechnichians who worked so hard to take 2 trucks of fireworks and kit produce a truly spectacular end result. The feedback has been phenomenal and the video reflects all the effort that went in to preparing the display.

Calentita Fireworks 2011

We’ve produced a number of spectacular firework displays in Gibraltar over the years, but 2011 was the first year Alchemy and Gib-based Events UnLimited have been awarded the contract to produce the Calentita Night fireworks and laser display in Casemates Square. The event is a spring food and arts festival, and the fireworks and laser display is the finale, and draws a big crowd to the city centre. Our proposal was to produce a display choreographed to a musical selection inspired by the very principle that drives the whole event: that Gibraltar has been and continues to be a melting pot of cultures.
As the firing site is the same as for New Year’s Eve we already knew the limitations of the site, and the key is choosing appropriate calibre reliable material. There is almost no margin for error with tight safety distances and hazards on all sides. On New Year’s Eve the display is – as you would expect – quite short. A blast for 5 minutes to celebrate the end of one year and the start of the next. But Calentita is a much longer display, which really stretches the range of suitable material to avoid repeating effects during the show. It took all of our expertise to design a show that would be interesting and high-impact and last nearly 20 minutes while working within all the health and safety restrictions of the venue and the limited footprint of the firing site itself.
On top of this we also worked with a Spanish laser company to produce a show that seemlessly integrated the fireworks, lasers, lights and music to produce a son-et-lumiere that was definitely greater than the sum of its parts. And for all the restrictions and challenges of limited safety distances, it’s great to hear the audience reaction close-up, not only at the end but throughout the display. That’s one of the great things about working in Gibraltar – the people there do love their fireworks. And our end client was on the phone straight after the display to confirm to thanks us for a safe and spectacular job well done.

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show Preview Evening Fireworks 2011

The start of July saw us back in Surrey and back at the Hampton Court Flower Show for a spectacular firework display for the RHS’s Exclusive Preview Evening. The display was choreographed to a custom old school rock and roll mix, featuring classic retro hits from the 1950’s and 1960’s including Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson and Elvis Presley.
The punchy, staccato feel of some of the music itself to intricate split-second choreography with the fireworks, and (as our long-suffering team of expert pyrotechnicians had feared) it was something of a festival of single-shots and wiring in. The cue count was up in the high hundreds but as you’ll see from the video – it was worth it. But it does make you wonder what we did before digital firing systems like FireOne and Pyrodigital came along.
As Hampton Court is a sensitive venue for fireworks we were careful to design the display “from the ground upwards” so that even if the wind was strong (and in the wrong direction) there would still be a continuous low-mid level show that could be fired in most conditions. As it happened – or perhaps because of this sensible approach to risk management – it was one of the most calm and sunny days of the summer, and we were able to fire the whole display without any fallout ever being likely to travel beyond the agreed drop-zone.
As always though, it’s not about whether we think a display is good, it’s about what our client (and their paying guests) think. We knew that it would be tough to beat the feedback we received for our show here in 2010, when 78.1% of guests thought our display was “good or excellent”. That was already a massive 15.5% improvement on the company that produced the display in 2009, and 11.1% improvement on another company that produced the display in 2008. So went we met our client for a de-brief lunch it was with some trepidation that we awaited the stats for 2011 – we really shouldn’t have set the bar so high in 2010 😉 ! We need not have feared though. Huge credit must go to Alchemy Fireworks display designer Glenn Plume and all the team that prepared and worked on the display, because the feedback for Alchemy Fireworks was up yet again, with a whopping 79% of the RHS’s discerning guests rating the display as good or excellent. We’d better start thinking about how we’re going to beat it with the 2012 display!

Phil and Emma’s Wedding

Wedding Fireworks to Music, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display for Phil and Emma’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at Luton Hoo, near Luton, Bedfordshire.

The display: This show was a rare “traditional” wedding fireworks display – no music, no lights or lasers – just 5-6 minutes of beautiful fireworks in all their glory. We structured the show into striking colour sequences so that it was stylish and harmonious; we can’t stand messy firework displays. You wouldn’t serve all the different ingredients of your wedding breakfast mashed together into a big pile of stodge, so why do the same with your wedding fireworks display? Not that it’s the clients fault, but you need to know that some firework companies produce firework displays that are the equivalent of baby food, and some firework companies produce displays that are the equivalent of haute cuisine. We like to think that an Alchemy Fireworks display is as creative as a Heston Blumenthal tasting menu, and as hearty as a Delia Smith classic!

The feedback: “The firework display was simply stunning.”

Mr and Mrs B’s Wedding

Wedding Fireworks to Music, Dartmouth, Devon

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding fireworks display for Mr and Mrs B’s high profile wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at a private residence in Kingswear, near Dartmouth in Devon.

The display: Alchemy were delighted to be asked to provide a spectacular wedding firework display for Mr and Mrs B’s wedding. It was a high profile event and the event organizers wanted to make sure that everything was just perfect, but they also wanted to know that they were getting value for money. We showed the client a full CGI visualization of the display so they could see exactly what they would get for their money, and exactly how it would be choreographed to their chosen music – 2 Kings of Leon tracks. Alchemy also organized the barge hire and liaison port authorities so that the firework display could take place safely on the River Dart eve amidst all the activity of regatta week.

The feedback: “the display was excellent!”

Stephanie and Philip

Wedding Fireworks, Aberdeen, Scotland

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display for Stephanie and Philip’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at a private residence near Fyvie Castle, near Aberdeen in Scotland.

The display: Wedding firework displays are as popular in Scotland as they are in the rest of the UK. Firework displays are hugely popular in this part of the world, and Scotland has traditionally hosted some of the most biggest firework displays in the UK, including the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks Concert, and various spectacular firework displays for Hogmanay events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Inverness to name but a few. Stephanie and Philip’s wedding firework display was a traditional aerial show; no music, just simply stunning fireworks.

The feedback: “The fantastic fireworks display was the perfect way to end the evening.”

Joe and Rachel

Wedding Fireworks, Crowborough, Sussex

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display for Joe and Rachel’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at a private residence near Crowborough, Sussex.

The display: The groom gave us an open brief to produce a display a varied aerial firework display for his wedding. He is a big firework fan, so we spent a good few hours discussing the content of the display, looking at pictures and images of fireworks, and of course scoping out the venue itself to check we had the necessary safety distances and identifying any local residents and livestock owners that would need to be notified of the display.

The feedback: “The fireworks were amazing, even better than we had hoped.”

David and Karen

Wedding Fireworks to Music, Reading, Berkshire

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display to music for David and Karen’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at Ufton Court, near Reading, in Berkshire.

The display: Our show included a mix of low, mid and aerial fireworks, all perfectly choreographed to a selection of the couple’s favourite music. Our FireOne digital firing system and state of the art Bose sound systems make it easy to produce wedding firework displays that are perfectly synchronized to music, whether it’s Madonna or Mozart. Many wedding couples like David and Karen choose a selection of their favourite tunes and ask us to produce a mix, so you have your own personalized soundtrack and your own personalized spectacular wedding firework display!

Feedback: “The fireworks were very well received by everyone at the wedding and I am still left with the image of the very last crescendo – having exploded spectacularly across the sky – hanging there like a curtain of gently falling golden cinders (there I go getting all poetic).”

Jonty and Susan

Surprise Wedding Fireworks, Bournemouth, Dorset

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display for Jonty and Susan’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at Canford Magna Golf Club near Bournemouth, Dorset.

The display: The best man gave us an open brief to produce a display a varied aerial firework display lasting only 3-4 minutes. The key consideration on this occasion was as much about keeping it a surprise from the bride and the guests as the content of the display itself. Surprise wedding firework displays are something that we are very experienced at producing, and it occasionally requires a little bit of a “cloak-and-dagger” approach and even the occasional white lie to keep the display secret all the way up to firing time – but it’s always worth it for the look on people’s faces when that first volley of fireworks explodes.

The feedback: “A spectacular display – thank you so much.”

Ali and Dave

Wedding Fireworks to Music, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

The brief: Alchemy Fireworks was asked to produce a spectacular wedding firework display to music for Ali and Dave’s wedding reception.

The location: The event was held at Anstey Hall, near Cambridge, in Cambridgeshire.

The display: Our show included a mix of low, mid and aerial fireworks, all perfectly choreographed to a selection of the couple’s favourite music. Our FireOne digital firing system and state of the art Bose sound systems make it easy to produce wedding firework displays that are perfectly synchronized to music, whether it’s Madonna or Mozart. Many wedding couples like Ali and Dave choose a selection of their favourite tunes and ask us to produce a mix, so you have your own personalized soundtrack and your own personalized spectacular wedding firework display!