Just in time for Bonfire Night 2015, we’ve complied an expansive list of 77 firework facts for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
- The largest chocolate firework was made by Nestle. It measured 3m x 1.5m and contained 60kg of Swiss Caller chocolates. The firework was released during New Year’s celebrations in Zurich at the end of 2002.
- The record for the world’s largest Catherine wheel was set in Malta at an impressive 32m in diameter.
- The largest firework rocket - which measured in at 13.40 kg – was produced and launched in Portugal on 13th October 2010.
- The largest fireworks display consisted of 540,382 fireworks and took place on 29th of November 2014 in Norway.
- In 2006, a then record-breaking 56,000 firework rockets were launched simultaneously to create spectacular opening at the Plymouth Fireworks Championships.
- The 4th July show in Washington D.C. is watched by over 500,000 spectators. It sees over 33 tonnes of fireworks discharged during the course of the celebrations.
- During New Year’s Day celebrations in Hong Kong in 1996, firecrackers were let off in a sequence that lasted 22 hours.
- The ‘most firework rockets launched in 30 seconds’ record was set at 125,801 on 8th May 2010 in the Philippines.
- The world’s largest single firework was launched during a Japanese festival in 1988. The shell of it weighed over a half a tonne and it resulted in a burst of over 1km.
- It is said that dreaming of fireworks reflects an enthusiastic and creative personality. It can also indicate that you like to be the centre of attention.
- It’s not uncommon for a 25-minute firework show to take up to 100 hours of planning.
- To date, fireworks have been used for festivities, the promotion of prosperity and scaring off evil spirits.
- Bamboo shoots provided the base for primitive firecrackers in China. Damp roots of the plants were thrown on a fire to create air pockets that exploded.
- Technicians in the modern day sometimes use computers to synchronize music and the electronic ignition of fireworks in public displays.
- The burst sizes of shells are usually 45 feet in diameter for every inch in shell size.
- Queen Elizabeth created the honorary title of ‘Fire Master of England’ for the individual who created the best fireworks, due to her fascination with the products.
- Sparklers are commonly used to create funny pictures through the combination of a dark setting, a camera set to record on long exposure and a lit sparkler.
- Many firework effects are named after flowers - such as Peony, Willow and Chrysanthemum.
- In contemporary times, the production of quality pyrotechnics continues to evolve as a scientific and skilled art.
- Following Manchester City’s 6-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011, the footballer Mario Balotelli was involved in a controversial firework-related incident. The then-City player was present as a friend caused a fire after letting fireworks off through an open window at a rental property.
- Following said incident, Balotelli ended up as the face of a firework safety campaign just days later.
- The English scholar Roger Bacon – who lived between 1214 and 1294 - was one of the first people of European descent to study and document gunpowder and its effects.
- Corresponding documentation indicates that fireworks date back to 7th Century China, over 200 years ago.
- The Arabs acquired knowledge of gunpowder in 1240.
- England’s first recorded fireworks were in 1486 at the wedding of King Henry VII.
- Italy were the first European country to use shells for firecrackers to be loaded into canons and shot into the air.
- Contrary to popular belief, it was the invention of fireworks that led on to the further invention of firework weaponry.
- Primitive fireworks have been said to date back to around 200BC.
- The invention of gunpowder occurred in ninth-century China. It was then used for both weapons and fireworks.
- During medieval times in China, fireworks were sometimes strapped to rats to send into enemy territory.
- Fireworks are said to have first arrived in Europe in 1292, courtesy of the Italian merchant-traveller Marco Polo. This is a fact that is still commonly debated.
- The term ‘fireworks’ was first used in English in 1592 – Shakespeare mentions them in both Love’s Labour’s Lost and Henry VIII.
- Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ premiere was postponed in 1749, after the pavilion caught fire.
- In America, the first fireworks recorded were set off by the Englishman Captain John Smith. This was made famous in the story of Pocahontas.
- Israel uses fireworks to celebrate the Purim holiday.
- Since 1777, the American public have been setting off fireworks to celebrate their independence.
- New York’s July 4th celebrations on the Hudson River are the largest in the United States. They include over 40,000 shells and are watched by upwards of 3 million people.
- In France, fireworks are used to celebrate Bastille Day – which reflects the storming of Bastille Prison.
- Political protestors have previously donned Guy Fawkes masks to protect their identity. This was seen in popular culture in the film V for Vendetta.
- Guy Fawkes Night – held annually on the 5th November – is the biggest UK celebration of fireworks. It was created to immortalise the failed Gunpowder Plot to kill James I on the 5th November, 1605.
- The Japanese word for firework is ‘hanabi’, which roughly translates to ‘fire-flower’.
- In 1706, Amédée-François Frézier published a ‘Treatise on Fireworks’, which became the standard text for manufacturers of fireworks. It covered recreational and ceremonial uses of fireworks.
- The World Pyro Olympics are held yearly in the Philippines.
- During ancient Indian and Thai religious ceremonies, fireworks were used for centuries. There were rockets that were up to 10 feet long, which were attached to bamboo sticks 40 feet high.
- The Chinese were said to use firecrackers to scare off abnormally large mountain men back around 200BC.
- Between 2001 and 2011, the Canadian National Fireworks Association stated that the amount of fireworks imported into the country increased by 800%.
- 90% of all the world’s fireworks originate from China, which is the globe’s largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks.
- At the Socchi Winter Olympics in 2004, 22 tonnes of fireworks were used for the starting show.
- £213.12 million of fireworks are said to be purchased annually in the US.
- The world’s largest consumer of fireworks is said to be the Walt Disney Company. In the US, nightly displays over the Magic Kingdom mean that the resort consumes the largest amounts of fireworks each year.
- The use of fireworks in the US rose by almost two and a half times from 1990 to 1999.
- According to figures, upwards of £380 million will be spent this year on firework celebrations.
- Some of the leading firework companies in the United States are owned by families of Italian descent.
- In the Chinese city of Liuyang, many of the world’s fireworks are manufactured. To make sure that there are no huge explosions, factories are commonly divided so that the different components of a firework are made separately. The annual firework festival there each October sees the trialling of exciting new firework technology.
- Each year, around £15 million is spent on fireworks in the UK. That amount rises to £200 million worldwide annually.
- It may sound obvious, but you should never throw any discarded fireworks on bonfires. They may still contain gunpowder in them which could still ignite.
- People under the age of 18 are not allowed to buy fireworks, nor possess them in a public place. This was increased from 16 in 1997.
- Firecrackers can be inadvertently set off by static electricity in synthetic clothing.
- Half of all firework injuries happen to children aged 16 or under – it’s essential that fireworks are respected and that their use is properly supervised.
- There is a maximum fine of £5000 for throwing a firework in a street or public place. It is a criminal offence.
- Dogs and animals should be kept inside the house when fireworks are being used. This can help them to stay calm and provide them with somewhere to hide.
- The large majority of firework-related injuries occur at private parties and family events.
- In order, the most common firework-related injuries happen to hands, eyes and faces.
- Fireworks in the UK must now comply with the British Standard 7114 (or its European equivalent).
- It has been claimed that 10 people each year lose their sight permanently as a result of firework injuries.
- Different sounds can be created by different chemical combinations within firework tubes. Hissing noises can be made with the assistance of aluminium flakes; flash powder makes loud bangs and cylindrical tubes are responsible for whistling sounds.
- In the manufacture of early fireworks, it was saltpetre that acted as the oxidiser that drove the chemical reaction within.
- A firework is made up of 3 key components – a fuel, a chemical mixture and an oxidiser. The chemical bonds in the fuel are broken by the oxidiser, which releases all of the stored energy. The fuse or direct flame then lights the spark for the subsequent chemical reaction.
- The most difficult colour to create in fireworks is blue.
- The shell of a rocket can reach as high as 200m, whilst the rocket itself can reach speeds of up to 150mph.
- In their earliest form, fireworks contained just 3 ingredients – saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal.
- Sparklers burn individually at a temperate of over 15 times the boiling point of water. Astonishingly, 3 together will generate the same amount of heat as a blowtorch.
- In the Middle Ages, colours were created in fireworks by adding different salts. Initially, they were only orange and white.
- Sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil.
- You’re able to see a firework explode before you hear it as sound travels at 761 mph; whereas light travels at 671 million mph.
- In terms of the different colours of fireworks varying chemicals produce; strontium creates red, copper creates blue, barium creates green and sodium creates yellow and orange.
- It was only as recently as the 19th Century that firework manufacturers has the knowledge and technology to produce red, green and blue fireworks.