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The British Fireworks Championships light up Plymouth Hoe

Every year in mid-August, Plymouth hosts the British Fireworks Championships when six British companies showcase the very best fireworks display possible.
The British Fireworks Championships take place every year on Plymouth Hoe on two evenings in mid-August. In 2014, they will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday 12 and 13 August. It seems almost too good to be true that six of the best fireworks manufacturers in the UK compete for the title British Fireworks Champion in a splendiferous free show for the public. This fireworks bonanza always makes me feel so lucky to live in the area!

Fantastic fireworks on Plymouth Hoe

With no holds barred, each fireworks company puts on an amazing display of the very best pyrotechnic effects, each trying to outdo the others. Of course the real winners are the 200,000 people who line the cliffs from Mount Batten, Hooe, Turnchapel and Oreston to Cattedown, the and the Hoe in Plymouth city centre.

The fireworks light up the sky after dark, so be in place around 9:30pm to enjoy 30-45 minutes of stunning starbursts, cascades and brilliant effects that modern-day fireworks can create. The sound-effects are nearly as good as the visual magic, with electrifying crackles, booms and shrill whizzing noises echoing off the cliffs.

The best viewpoints for the British Fireworks Championships

I have watched these exciting fireworks displays from various points around the city including joining the oohing and ahhing crowds on the headland of Mount Batten. I can tell you, the views are probably better from the clifftops than they are from near Smeaton’s Tower on the Hoe, and the noise is just as loud! Tinside Colonnade overlooking the Lido offers three levels of excellent viewing or try Pebblestone Beach down the steps from Hoe Road.

If you want to participate in a whole evening of fun you need to get down to the Hoe waterfront well before 6pm. The warm-up pre-fireworks entertainment is courtesy of Heart FM radio station live on-stage with a backdrop across to Drake’s Island. The four tonnes of fireworks are fired from the Plymouth Breakwater and of course the waters of Plymouth Sound are bobbing with boats of all sizes. For a fee you can join one of the exclusive booze cruises that take in the show as part of an evening afloat.

As you can imagine, parking is the main problem and you will have to walk some distance from wherever you park, but you can always get a taxi or bus to the Barbican/Hoe area.

British Fireworks Champion of Champions Contest

Every six years, the winners from the previous six years all compete in a Champion of Champions competition. The last one took place in 2013 after the contest was unfortunately postponed in 2012 due to bad weather for the first time since the championships began in 1997.

To give you an idea of just how many thousands of fireworks are let off, to mark the previous Champion of Champions contest in 2006, Dr Roy Lowry, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Plymouth was asked by Plymouth City Council to come up with something extra special. He arranged to break the world record by firing the most rockets simultaneously.

You might think that a few dozens, maybe a hundred rockets, would have secured him a position in the Guinness Book of Records, but he fired 56,649 rockets into the air in 30-seconds!

Logistically it was quite a task to prepare all the fireworks on frames with detonators, so he recruited teams from the Territorial Army who worked for eight hours to get the job done. Altogether 56,405 of the rockets went off to secure him the world record, but the record was beaten in 2008.

Have you been lucky enough to attend the British Fireworks championships in Plymouth? Where did you view it from, and what was the atmosphere like? We’d love you to share your impressions of what it was like to attend.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.


  1. Anna Adams says:

    I live in Plymouth and we get excited about the contest every year. It is one of the main things that brings us together as a community. Me, my husband and our two children choose to watch it from the cliffs as it gives the most spectacular view, and like you mentioned in the article, the sound is just as impressive, if not better. This year, the kids are off on a holiday with their grandparents so we are taking this opportunity to go on one of the cruises. So glad that it is the Champion of Champions show as it promises to be a truly spectacular night.

  2. Zaiva says:

    Now this would be awesome! Bonfire night is one of my favourite times of the year, I love going out at night and seeing all the different colours lighting up the sky. A championship sounds like there would be the best fireworks around taking part, of all sizes, and it would be an amazing experience for anyone I’m sure.

    It would be a loud night for the residents of Plymouth, so I’m guessing it would attract a lot of people as it’s probably not wise to stay indoors. Has anyone ever been to an event similar to this one? I have found some footage online, of a championship show and it looks incredible!

    “56,649 rockets into the air in 30-seconds!” Now that would light up an entire city! Would love to have seen that, it would have been noisy, but beautiful.
    Zaiva recently posted: wefweffaffaxbbdbMy Profile

  3. Wendy Tomlinson says:

    This sounds spectacular. My friend has been there for the championships a few times and he say they are the best he’s ever seen. He says “the atmosphere is electrifying!” Thanks for sharing.

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