This year the international fireworks competition held in Hannover celebrated its 25th anniversary. This festival is held in perhaps one of the most beautiful locations ever chosen for a fireworks competition—the Herrenhausen Gardens, located in Lower Saxony’s capital of Hannover, Germany—and is one of the most famous fireworks festivals in all of Europe. For 25 years now many of the best pyrotechnic companies in the entire world have traveled to Hannover to compete against one another in this perfectly picturesque setting.

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This was my very first time attending this particular competition. (I know, shame on me). But that’s the problem I have being such a fireworks enthusiast: I want to see as many fireworks displays and competitions around the world as is humanly possible, but I also have a wife and children who need attention, so I need to make responsible decisions and consider their needs as well. When you have a family, the world can’t always revolve around fireworks. Well, in a perfect world, maybe.

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So, this year (I have to be picky about the competitions I see, remember) I traveled to Hannover to see the display by Pirotecnia Ricardo Caballer (Ricasa) from Valencia, Spain. And almost as soon as I arrived I knew I would have to return there again to see more competitions in the future. Honestly, the place is THAT stunningly scenic. The gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and the colorful flowers and statuary truly add an almost ethereal dimension—an ineffable beauty—to the nighttime displays.

Since this was my first visit, like I said, on Friday I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Of course, I assumed Ricasa would go for the win (their team always brings their best products to competitions), but when you enter the amazing gardens for the first time, the real winner is the splendor of the garden itself. Coming in a close second is the grandeur of thousands of single shot comets and mines placed seemingly everywhere! The fireworks-laden garden brought a smile to my face that didn’t go away for almost two solid days. And this was just the single-shots! The second day of the setup was entirely different because that was when the big shells (8” max) were being placed and loaded. We did see some very nice set pieces, too, and wheels and long poles with single shots pointed in a variety of directions. If you’ve never seen a show by Ricasa, their use of single shots might confuse you. After you’ve seen the magic they create that way, though, you’ll understand the perfection of their technique.

 

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The overall rules for the competition were as follow:

  • Each show’s duration was expected to be around 25 minutes in length.
  • The first four minutes had to be displayed using music chosen by the host organization (This year’s choice was the New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák).
  • After the first mandatory musical piece concluded, each company could then decide what other musical pieces to choreograph.
  • Each competing company was also required to included a certain number of ground elements.
  • The use of any kind of whistles or salutes was strictly prohibited.

 

It is hard to adequately describe just how much I love to watch fireworks displayed in concurrence with classical music. It seems to meld so much more perfectly to the brushstroke grace of pyrotechnic colors illuminating the nighttime sky (much more so than using top 40’s tunes), and their combination seems to awaken an emotional power within me that always leaves me with an overwhelming sense of joy. What could easily be a crass mish-mash of colors and loud sounds manages to transcend itself to an almost mystical level as the fireworks perfectly intermix with each classical note and Zen-like pause.

Instead of me describing the highlights of the show I saw in Hannover, it would be much better for you to simply watch the videos for yourself so you can better understand their majesty.

 

VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/130148337

WEBSITE RICASA: http://www.ricardocaballer.com/es/

WEBSITE FESTIVAL: http://www.hannover.de/en/Welcome-to-Hannover/Tourism-Culture/Event-Highlights/Specials/International-Firework-Competition

WEBSITE GARDENS: http://www.hannover.de/Herrenhausen/Herrenhäuser-Gärten

As you might expect, the music used during this competition was also wonderful. The following is the music selected by Ricasa for use in their Pyromusical:

New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák
Por Ti Volare by Andrea Bocelli
Alice in Wonderland by Danny Elfman
Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi
Symphony No.5 by Beethoven
Entre dos Aquas by Paco de Lucia
Lord of the Dance by Ronah Hardiman
Four Seasons by Vivaldi
Dream Chasers by Future World Music.

Technical facts regarding this show: 

  • 5885 Cue’s
  • 669 (Multishot) candles
  • 6457 Single Shots and Special effects
  • 1064 Shells
  • 404 Pirodigital field modules
  • 8190 Igniters
  • Design of the show took 2 weeks to complete.

 

In our next issue Tobias Brevé and Robin Harteveld will cover other facets of the competition since the competition was ongoing when this article was written.

 

We would like to thank Christina Fricke (Project Leader) and Nick Edgington (Rohr Feuerwerk) for their help and for providing information for this article.

Photos by Tobias Brevé and Tony Gemmink