IGNIS BRUNENSIS is a Fireworks Festival in the city of Brno in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic.
Many people know the fireworks festivals of ‘Cannes,’ ‘Montreal,’ ‘Knokke-Heist’ in Belgium and ‘Pyronale’ in Berlin. Another fireworks festival that should be added to this list of ‘Famous Festivals’ is ‘Ignis Brunensis.’ A festival that is not just about fireworks, but about much more. The fireworks are just a part of the bigger festivities in the City of Brno from May till the end of June every year.
My first experience of this festival was in 2008 when I joined the team of ‘Hendrickx Fireworks’ from Belgium. Since then I have been back to this festival every year. It is by far the biggest fireworks festival in this region. ‘Ignis Brunensis’ in latin means ‘Fire of Brno,’ it all began in 1998 as a National Fireworks festival where only Czech companies took part. The fireworks festival is technically supported and organized by ‘Flash Barrandov’ from Prague, Czech, and commercially organized by ‘Snip & Co.’ The main sponsor for many years has been the local beer brewery ‘StaroBrno,’ owned by the Dutch brewer ‘Heineken.’ The first company outside Czech that joined the festival was the German fireworks company ‘Nico-Lunig,’ something organized for an ‘exhibition.’ Since 2003 the competition turned from a ‘National’ to an ‘International Fireworks Festival’ with companies from Italy (‘Panzera’) and Spain (‘A. Caballer’) taking part.
Since then companies such as ‘Macedo’s Pirotecnia’ (Portugal), ‘Fireworks for Africa’ (S Africa), ‘Marutamaya’ (Japan), ‘Fetes & Feux’ (France), ‘Vaccalluzzo’ SRL (Italy), ‘Luso Pirotecnia’ (Portugal), ‘Pirotecnia Ricardo Caballer’ (Spain), ‘Foti’ (Australia), ‘Pyrovision’ (Austria), ‘Sugyp SA’ (Switzerland) and many more have become involved and displayed. Besides the International Fireworks companies there are still many Czech companies that still enter competition.
The festival starts traditionally with a fireworks prelude shot by the Czech Compnay ‘Theatrum Pyroboli’ in the center of Brno City, followed by second display on the Brno lake (by the Brno Dam) by ‘Flash Barrandov.’ These two pyro-musicals are out of competition. In the upcoming weeks the competition shows follow, all performed on the Brno Lake. To close the festival and the main Festivities in the city, a closing pyromusical is performed by ‘Flash Barrandov’ at the beautiful ‘Spilberk Castle’ on a hill in the middle of Brno City.
The pyromusicals in competition have some rules, one rule is you have to use an obligatory piece of music and until 2008 every electronically fired shell upwards of 4” had be fired manually. Since 2009 that rule has now been dropped, which for me is a little disappointing. You have to have some serious pyrotechnical skills to fire your shells at a push of a button, on time without the use of a digital firing system or computer. Maximum caliber is 200mm, but I have seen bigger shells fired at this festival, occasionally 250mm. There are no further restrictions in what you are not allowed to use, the competition shows are fired from a barge that is built from military floating bridge parts. The shows are partly prepared on the shore near the lake and on the barge itself. Due to some old very strict rules from the old East European laws, it is hard to use your own electronic (wireless) shooting system. There are however systems available for use from the German company ‘Galaxis’ which are supplied for the competition by the organisers ‘Flash Barrandov.’
One of the great things for the competing companies about this festival is the technical support. The fireworks company ‘Flash Barrandov’ takes care about almost everything. They collect the fireworks from the warehouses. Mortars, and other equipment are already in place at the firing site, and as was mentioned earlier an advanced digital wireless firing system from ‘Galaxis’ is available, including a technical engineer from the ‘Galaxis’ itself. Other important things like hotels and personal transportation are taken care of. During the preparation the staff of ‘Flash Barrandov’ assist the competing fireworks companies in many ways, and it is greatly appreciated.
Between 150,000 and 180,000 spectators gather every night when there is a fireworks display on the lake. These people come not only for the fireworks, but for the big fair, concerts, parties and so on. You don’t have to worry about not hearing the music as it is broadcast on the radio. So it is good to find a nice spot at the lake and put on your radio!
If you ask me what where the best shows I have seen during ‘Ignis Brunensis,’ I would find it a bit hard to say. I do have a some favorites: First off is the first show I ever saw at ‘Ignis Brunensis, performed by the organizing company ‘Flash Barrandov’ themselves using mainly music from Pirates of the Caribbean this was a nice show, they even showed us the pirate boat during the show, very spectacular!
My second favorite show was the winning show from 2011 by the Italian fireworks company ‘Vaccalluzzo’ SRL a good and clean design the typical ‘Vaccalluzzo’ way. The third one is the closing show from 2009 once again performed by Flash Barrandov a creative stunning show shot from the Spilberk castle. Next up is the show from the Spanish fireworks factory ‘Ricardo Caballer’ ‘RICASA’ back in 2012. A spectacular colorful show with outstanding products.
And one of my final favorites is again a closing show and this one is from 2012. This time ‘Flash Barrandov’ teamed up with ‘Pyrovision’ from Austria. A spectacular show with great designs using high quality European products and with a good music choice.
As I said before there is more to do than just watching the fireworks displays. One of the things what could be of interest to those reading this online publication is a visit to the fireworks museum ‘Vulcanalia’ in the ‘Spilberk Castle.’ When entering the Castle you walk over the foundations and other old archeological things to get to the fireworks museum itself, I think this is a must see. The next edition of ‘Ignis Brunensis’ starts 23rd of May and lasts until the 22nd of June the line-up of fireworks displays is as follow: 23/5 – (Prelude) ‘Theatrum Pyroboli’ – Brno Centre, 31/5 (second Prelude) ‘Flash Barrandov’ – Brno-South. The competition, Brno Lake\Dam: 7/6 ‘Pyroboli’ – Czech, 11/6 ‘Mirnovec Pirotechnika’ – Croatia, 14/6 ‘Feuerwerke Jost’ – Austria, 18/6 ‘Nanos Fireworks’ – Greece. Closing show at the Spilberk Castle: 21/6 – ‘Flash Barrandov sfx.’ All fireworks displays starts at 10.30pm sharp.
In the next edition of the Magazine I will report back about the 2014 Edition of ‘Ignis Brunensis!’ I hope to see you in Brno, and like they say in Brno: Ahoj!
By Jack Suijkerbuijk