Frequently Asked Questions about Fireworks Displays

Drawing on our many years of experience, we have put together this simple list of frequently asked questions to help you with booking a fireworks display that is right for you.

If you can’t find the answer to a particular question, or want more detailed advice, drop us an email and we’ll be happy to help.

Why use a professional fireworks display company?

If you want a good quality, safe and properly insured fireworks display use a professional company, and make sure they are a member of the BPA – British Pyrotechnists Association.

Halo FX are members of the BPA and you can check that we are by going to the members page on the BPA website.

To be members Halo FX have to meet a minimum set of criteria year on year including:-

Minimum turnover on professionally fired displays of more than £50,000 per year
Evidence of 2 years Employee, Product and Public liability Insurance of a minimum cover of £5 million
HSE or Local Authority licenced facilities to legally buy and properly store fireworks.
A Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) – a paid specialist consultant who is on hand to provide technical help and advice on health and safety matters concerning explosives
ADR trained drivers – specialist trained drivers who are licenced to transport dangerous goods – eg explosives
BPA trained firers to set up and fire the displays

All the above costs money to do in order to comply.

If a “professional” fireworks company is not a member of the BPA, chances are they won’t have all the above to place.

How much does a fireworks display cost?

Your firework display budget needs to start at £595 inc VAT for a five-minute display.

You may well find some companies offering displays for just £400 for a 5 min or even 10 min display. BEWARE of these offers – it is very likely the company or individual is not properly insured, so check they have proper insurance before you book.

The 2 key factors that determine the amount you need to spend are; the size of the audience; and how impressive you want the fireworks display to be.

In basic terms the more you spend, the bigger and more awe-inspiring your display will be.

How do I compare one fireworks display with another?

It’s not easy to compare, and the best advice is to look at videos of pasts displays and then meet with the fireworks companies you are considering and book with the one you like and trust.

It’s easy to be blinded by jargon or misleading and meaningless information.

For example some companies quote the number of “shots” in a display. This is a very crude and almost meaningless way to compare two displays.

Here’s why;

The really big aerial fireworks you see at public fireworks displays are known as “shells”. (sometimes mistakenly referred to as rockets which are similar in their effect, but are rarely used in professional fireworks displays)

1 shell = 1 shot

But other types of fireworks called cakes and roman candles are made up of individual single shots fused together in a sequence. Cakes and roman candles range from 8 shots to over 200 shots in on unit.

A “shot” does not give any information of the “size” of the shot, nor the “frequency” at which the shots are fired, nor the “quantity” of shots being fired at any moment in time, nor the “quality and/or type of effect” of the shot.

“Size” or more correctly the calibre of a firework dictates the size of the effect in the sky. Shells range from 50mm calibre all the way up to 150mm calibre. A 150mm shell has a bursts at around 200 meters high with a diameter of 150 meters. A 75mm shell is half the size, but is the most common type of shell used in displays.

The calibre of cakes and roman candles range between 10mm up to 50mm, and provide the low level effects in a fireworks display. This is 19 shot 30mm calibre cake lasts around 25 seconds, and this 14mm 56 shot roman candle is also 25 seconds.

But a small calibre does not necessarily mean a small effect, especially when frequency and quantity are also taken into account.

“Frequency” – the rate of firing is significant in the overall effect of a firework sequence, as is the “quantity” of shots being fired at a given moment in time. This is a 18mm 200 shot fan cake lasting 5 seconds, compared with a 49 shot 38mm fan cake lasting 25 seconds.

Finally the “quality and/or type of effect” of a shot varies enormously, and so does the price. This 75mm shell is 4 times the price of this simple 75mm Peony shell.

How long should my firework display last?

The amount of time you need for a display is often a lot shorter than you would imagine. Of course it’s your show, so you can have as long as you want.

However we would always recommend packing more fireworks into a shorter period, rather than trying to stretch out the time.

Based on 25 years of experience, here’s what we recommend for different types of events;

Weddings, Private parties, Corporate events, Memorials – Ideal duration between 5 and 7 minutes, with a max of 10 minutes.

Bonfire night, Diwali, Chinese New Year – Between 15 and 20 minutes, with 25 minutes being a maximum.

Christmas Lights, New Years Eve, Product Launch – Between 3 and 5 minutes. Any longer and you lose the moment of celebration.

Music Concerts – Select 2 or 3 numbers towards the end of your programme for the fireworks to be choreographed to.

How impressive will my fireworks display be?

To impress, do you want a longer show or a bigger show?

Setting one firework off after another will obviously last longer than setting off three at a time.

But three fireworks going off together will create a bigger effect in the sky than one firework.

Quite simply the more fireworks that are available, the more impressive and awe-inspiring your display will be.

What is the benefit of a firework display being choreographed to music?

If it’s at all possible to have your firework display choreographed to music we’d recommend it.

The overall enjoyment of your show will be considerably better, especially if the music is important to you

Can I have a quiet fireworks display?

Yes, and your fireworks display will be just as good.

Most of the unacceptable loud bangs come from the lifting and breaking charges in certain fireworks, so removing these reduces the noise levels considerably.

We specialise in very low noise fireworks displays, so if noise is an issue you can still have a great show with one of our specialist displays.

What time can a fireworks display be in the UK?

In the UK under the Fireworks Regulations 2004 – section 7, you can only have a firework display up to 11.00pm at night, with the exceptions being New Years Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year when displays are permitted up to 1.00am.

We suggest displays are fired before 10pm and so are more ‘socially acceptable’ to others around.

We also recommend you inform local neighbours of the time and date of the display so they can prepare in advance and perhaps enjoy the show too.

What happens if the weather is bad?

High winds, low cloud or fog are the key weather conditions that adversely affect a fireworks display.

High winds – especially blowing towards the audience will mean a display has to be cancelled.

With low cloud or fog, a fireworks display can still be fired, but you may not see it all.

If I cancel a fireworks display will I still have to pay?

Well yes and no depending on your display company.

Nobody likes paying for something they didn’t get, and Halo FX recognise this by offering highly favourable cancellation terms.

What is the safety distance for a fireworks display?

In very basic terms, the fireworks firing site needs to be positioned 50 metres from the audience, with 100 meters of sterile ground immediately behind the firing site for fall out.

However these distances are only a guide as ultimately the distance will be determined by the risk assessment carried out by your fireworks display company.

Depending on the types of fireworks used, the prevailing wind and other factors, distances may be smaller or greater.

Make sure your chosen fireworks company does a site visit, and provides you with a full event specific risk assessment and method statement, together with a copy of their public liability insurance. Also check the competency of the company or individual carrying out the risk assessment. Halo FX risk assessments are carried out by a qualified Event Safety Manager.

Finally remember that if there is an accident involving fireworks, you as the event organiser will have a shared level of liability, even if when you are using a professional fireworks display company to do your display.

What insurance do I need for a fireworks display?

Any professional fireworks company must have public liability insurance which will cover the operation of the fireworks display itself and most companies will have £5 million public liability insurance.

Make sure you get a copy of their valid certificate, and check it is genuine by contacting the insurer directly. There was a serious accident in 2010 when tragically a person was injured by a firework and worse still the display operator had forged their insurance policy document.

If you are an event organiser you will need your own insurance policy to cover other activities you are in charge of running as part of the event.