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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!

August 2012  

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

Let's Party!  Special celebrations, this month:   Fireworks

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

In this month’s feature on entertaining and celebration, we look at sparking up a party with fireworks.


FireworksIncluding fireworks in a special celebration really can add some fun and sparkle. A firework display can also be really useful to mark an end to a party to encourage people to start leaving!

There are two ways to include fireworks; to buy them in and set them off yourself or to hire in a professional firework display company.

For smaller parties and events, you will probably want to keep the budget down and therefore buying in a few key fireworks for a small but dramatic display can work well. However, the first thing is to make yourself aware about fireworks and how they work; adults get hurt by fireworks every year.

Even sparklers can be dangerous - they can get five times hotter than cooking oil! But generally, if you follow the instructions and are sensible, fireworks are safe and quite easy to use.

You do need to be aware of the law. It is illegal to set off fireworks in public places. If you are hiring a venue then you will have to negotiate with the people you are hiring from re their permission, insurance and so forth. In the UK it is also illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm at night and 7am in the morning accept on special occasions such as bonfire night, New Year’s Eve and Diwali.

Fireworks come under different categories and for private garden displays you need fireworks that are categories 1 to 3.

Buying fireworks is easier at special times of the year such as around bonfire night when more shops are allowed to stock fireworks; throughout the rest of the year only fully registered shops supply fireworks to the public. There are many suppliers on line now but if you are buying on the internet, do check the supplier is reputable and also check that the fireworks you are buying conform to British Standards. They should have a BS7114 or CE mark showing clearly on the box.

You can have a lot of fun choosing the products and making your final selection. It is often worthwhile talking to the shop or supplier to get their guidance and to fully understand the difference between the fabulous names given to modern fireworks. The Catherine Wheels and sparklers of our youth have developed into fabulous sky displays with names such as Raging Bull, Sky Thriller, Humming Hornets, Predator 500 and so on. Your supplier will be able to give you an idea of what each does and also a quick idea of timing so that you can plan your display. You really don’t need a very long display to create a fabulous effect.

The length of the display will of course also depend on your budget; you can buy small firework display boxes which include just a few key fireworks for around £30; or go up to a sensational 15 minute display for £200 or more.

Most fireworks do generally go off with a bang, but if you are worried about neighbours, today you can find quiet fireworks developed specifically to reduce noise. Epic Fireworks for instance ( offer special quiet firework boxes including lovely “Cascades” and “Falling Leaves” which can offer beautiful colour without too many of the big bangs, screeches and whistles that are associated with traditional fireworks.

Once you have obtained the fireworks for your party, you do need to ensure you are fully prepared. Check the instructions well before the party. Make sure you are aware of any special launch bottles or supports you might need and get them ready.

More than anything, on the night make sure there is a dedicated person in charge of the display, a person who is not partying too hard with lots of alcohol and someone who is responsible enough to take control and ensure all the guests stand well back without interfering. Obviously animals need to be kept indoors and if you have neighbours with young children or animals, it is normal courtesy to warn them.

The alternative to doing it yourself is to bring in the experts. There are professional companies that specialise in organising firework displays for both large and small events. Prices vary enormously so it is simply a question of trawling the internet and talking to various companies to see what is available for your budget. For instance, PDC fireworks ( offer packages from around £500 but for this everything is organised and done for you and the displays are magnificent. They do offer special reductions for non-profitable organisations and charities and can also offer pyro musicals combining stunning aerial displays with accompanying music for those really special events.

Whether you want to end your party by handing out a few fun sparklers, or invest in a fabulous aerial display, fireworks really can add an exciting and memorable extra touch to a special event.

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