New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Since the Millennium, New Year’s Eve has become a really popular evening (excuse?) to let off fireworks. Most activity is centered around midnight, although it is becoming increasingly common to have displays earlier in the evening.


Getting started

If you haven’t already done so, read the General Advice article first which runs through the basics of having a display. This article assumes you are doing your own display with consumer fireworks rather than using a professional service.


Top tips for New Year’s Eve

New Year Fireworks

Three sets of cakes fired to give a short, sharp display

Keep your display SHORT for the following reasons:

  • This occasion needs a short, sharp, loud and to-the-point display. A maximum of five minutes is recommended.
  • Keeping it short means setting off fireworks quickly, together or overlapped. This makes the display look better.
  • Many (if not all) guests will be well under the influence of alcohol with an attention span to match. They won’t want to stand around for ages.
  • You’ll want to clear up quickly and get down to some serious partying.
  • Your guests will want to get back to partying and/or drinking too.
  • It’s late. Not everyone celebrates New Year (believe it or not!).
  • The weather is likely to be poor, or at the very least, cold. The audience will want to get back indoors pretty quickly.

Some more useful tips:

  • It is normally recommend to start displays with sparklers but don’t bother on this occasion. They’re too tame for this type of display and are a liability if guests are a little “unsteady” through drink. If you must use them, do so about five minutes before midnight.
  • Single ignition boxes or “displays in a box” (large cakes) provide a hassle free way of staging some very good effects and are well suited to this type of short celebration. Large cakes have the added advantage of very little pre-display setting up, ideal if the weather is bad.
  • It’s nice to start as close to midnight as possible with a big rocket. You need to light the fuse about ten seconds before midnight but be warned it is never an exact science due to the big variations in fuse burn times!
  • You may like to avoid quieter fireworks like fountains and wheels too BUT take into account your audience and your venue.

You can create a great atmosphere indoors too, both before and after the fireworks. Here’s how:

  • If you’re popping a bottle of bubbly, a couple of indoor sparklers or an ice fountain stuck in the cork is a nice touch (remove the spent sparklers and dispose of them safely before popping the cork!).
  • Party poppers always go down well and they’re cheap too.
  • Take the confetti a bit further with indoor table top confetti bombs. With all this confetti flying about, keep the food covered!
  • Lightsticks are another popular distraction for guests. As they last up to eight hours they can be started in the evening and will still be going after midnight. Guests can take them outside in the dark during the fireworks as well as wave them around indoors because they’re 100% safe and nontoxic.


Safety first

Alcohol is a major worry with late night displays such as this. All firers MUST remain sober until after the display. This cannot be stressed enough. Drink affects your coordination and judgment. Bear in mind too if there’s an accident and you’re found to have been drinking, you could face criminal or private prosecution. It’s hard to stay sober when everyone else is going for it, but drink and explosives do not mix – you can always make up for lost time after the display and the buzz from hosting a safe and sober display will add to the effect!

More advice:

  • Don’t get carried away because of the occasion and use fireworks too big for the venue, or large rockets if you don’t have a suitable fall out zone.
  • Bear in mind big cakes or single ignition boxes, once they start, may not stop for a minute or more. Check they’re sitting securely (and the right way up) then double check, then check again, THEN light it.
  • Be careful if lighting more than one firework at the same time. Space them out and run from one to another or better still have someone help you.
  • Always use portfires for safety. Buy them with your order. These will be worth their weight in gold on a damp, windy night.


What fireworks to use

With a short, sharp and loud display in mind, here are some suggestions:

  • Rockets: Big display rockets are on the menu here. Don’t worry about too many smaller rockets unless you’re an experienced team of firers and intend to multiple fire them.
  • Cakes and candles: The biggest and best you can afford. Go for fewer, bigger items if you can. Fan cakes look stunning and work really well. Two big cakes together look even better, for example a fan cake plus another big cake can create a near-professional effect.
  • SIBS: Single Ignition Boxes or Displays In A Box are really just big cakes with a variety of effects, but are a key firework on New Year’s Eve. Easy to set up and guaranteed to provide rotating effects in most cases all from one fuse.
    New Years Fireworks

    Single big cakes or "displays in a box" are ideal for New Year's Eve. The tree and the firer are both dwarfed by this cake.

  • Lancework: You might want to end with some New Year lancework which can be found for sale around this time. Examples include the year in numbers, or a champagne bottle etc.

Remember, it is illegal to let off fireworks after 1am New Year’s Eve.


Further information

If you need any further help feel free to ask in the busy UKFR Fireworks Forum.

When you are ready to buy your fireworks, always give priority to UKFR advertisers and those listed on the Buy Fireworks page (find out why).  Once you have purchased your fireworks head over to the Using Fireworks section for expert advice on how to set them up and let them off. Even if you are just buying one big cake there are a number of things you can do to make sure it is safer, not to mention making it weatherproof. See the New Year in with a bang, not a blown off finger!

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