Since they were launched in 1997 by the Event Services Association (TESA) , the British Firework Championships have become a signature event for the UK firework industry attracting media coverage from as far afield as Australia.

Created originally to bring the professional pyrotechnics industry together once a year, the Championships have grown exponentially and now considered one of the South West’s premier annual occasions. Not only is it popular locally, but draws in visitors from all around the UK, bringing welcome spending to city businesses.

As a venue, Plymouth has proved itself the natural amphitheatre, enabling many thousands to freely watch the spectacle from all around Plymouth Sound.

At the same time, it provides the firework industry with an opportunity to display their skills, while showcasing the latest pyrotechnics in a friendly but competitive atmosphere.

Every year, six professional firework companies compete over two nights for the title British Firework Champions. Each is required to provide a 10-minute display, which will be judged both by a panel of experts, as well as a lay panel representing the public view. This means their displays are rated both technically and for the big-bang wow factor that we all love.

Since their inception, the Championships have been run as a partnership between the organisers: The Event Services Association and Plymouth City Council

Despite some challenging years with the weather – and even a World War II bomb being discovered close to the firing site – the only time the event has not taken place was during the pandemic.  

What you will see

The Championships take place over two nights on 14th and 15th August, 2024.

Starting at approximately 9.30pm (or as soon as it’s dark enough) there will be three 10 minute displays fired from Mountbatten breakwater. Each display will use up to 550kg NEM (Net Explosive Mass) – that’s over three tonnes of pyrotechnics each!

You can watch the displays from any point around Plymouth Sound but the best viewing point is the Hoe, near where the judges will be.  As the competitors will be trying to impress the judges, the design of the shows will be focussed in that direction. In addition, you can also enjoy a whole host of live entertainment on the Hoe, including a stage with live music, a  fun fair and a selection of catering.

What to look For

We all love the Big Bang ‘Wow’ factor of fireworks, but our judges will be looking for a lot more than that.  Indeed, keeping everyone entertained for 10 minutes involves creating a spectacular display that is technically and creatively designed to hold everyone’s attention.

But the ‘Wow’ factor also matters, which is why we have a panel of local judges as well as a professional panel.  

These are what both panels will be looking for:

Local Judges

  1. The variety of fireworks and sequences used: Was there enough variety in the different effects and did the way they worked together impress you? 
  2. Rhythm of the Display: Did the flow of the display hold your attention and did it run smoothly?
  3. Use of Colour: Was the use of colour in each display effective in grabbing your attention and adding to the quality of the show?
  4. Overall Impression: What was your overall impression of the ‘Wow’ factor of the show in its entirety?

The Experts

  1. The quality of the show design and performance
  2. Compliance with firing brief – each competitor has to submit a brief plan of their show in advance.
  3. Symmetry, patterns and timing of the display
  4. Overall Artistic Impression of the display

Why not judge each display for yourself and see if you agree with our judging panels? You can even Tweet us your results to us at @BritishFirework 

This year our judging panels will be joined by a group of up to ten care-experienced young people, drawn from across Plymouth, who will select one of the displays to receive a new Young People’s Choice Award. This initiative is being supported by Plymouth Citybus.