When are fireworks on sale in the UK?

Firework shop sign

Some firework companies (including Peak Fireworks) are open all year round. Even when the office is shut you can leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Fireworks shop display

But the traditional times for fireworks in the UK are Bonfire Night (November the 5th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st). You may also want some for the movable festivals at Chinese New Year and Divali. So you will find other shops that open just for these periods. They have to buy a licence from their Local Authority, which will allow them to sell fireworks between:-

October 15th and November 10th
and 26th December to 31st December.
3 days before Chinese New Year and Divali.

If you have trouble finding a shop in your local area, try to find someone selling on line. But remember they will not be able to send fireworks to you by ordinary post, and it is very expensive to send them by courier. So you will always be better off finding a local supplier. The best search term to use in Google is “Fireworks near me”.

Where are fireworks made?

Fireworks factory Liuyang

The majority of fireworks sold in the UK are made in Liuyang – a large city in the Hunan Province. It is about 800km South of Beijing, and 650km North of Hong Kong.

The city contains hundreds of small workshops, medium-sized units and large factory complexes. Many of them make small components for fireworks (just the fuses or the cardboard tubes, for example) while the biggest make a full range of domestic and professional grade fireworks which are shipped all over the world.

Some people believe that fireworks were even invented in Liuyang in the 2nd Century BC when people discovered that sections of bamboo would burst loudly when thrown into a fire. 300 years later the Chinese invented gunpowder and found that when this was packed into those same sections of bamboo the effect was even more explosive. It is no surprise, then, that the artisans of Liuyang still make the majority of the world’s fireworks. And while there are excellent manufacturers in Japan, Malta, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, South America, and many other countries, the chances are that any firework you buy in the UK will have been made in Liuyang.

(Photo Credit: Epic Fireworks from Flickr)

How much does a firework display cost?

Plumes of fireworks burst in the sky

This is a question we get asked a lot. And it’s tempting to reply, “As much as you want to spend.”

It’s just that there are so many things that can count as “a fireworks display”. Do you want a few rockets and a Catherine wheel in your back garden? Do you want to celebrate a wedding with a beautiful display for a hundred guests? Or do you want to light up Sydney Harbour Bridge at New Year’s Eve? 

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

  1. Garden Displays
Small Garden Firework Display
Photo: Mike Harrington (Getty)

A small garden display can cost you anything from a few pounds upwards. Most fireworks companies will sell you what you need – either by letting you pick individual products or putting together a prepared package. These are often excellent value, and at Peak Fireworks we make sure that the products are right for the size of your garden. Our complete small garden display is less than £50 for example, and is designed for a garden 8 or more metres long. This is so that you and your family can be far enough away from the fireworks when they are lit.

Or we have a medium-sized display for less than £100 (which needs up to 25m safety distance to keep you safe). Any reputable firework supplier will talk you through the products in your display to make sure they are suitable for your garden. They will also help you to choose quieter fireworks if that is important for you and your neighbours.

A wedding display, or any big celebration, will probably need something special. Our large display might do the trick. It is £250 and needs at least 25m. We can customise it to match your colour choices.

You will need someone confident, reliable, safe (and sober) to light your fireworks for you. We can talk them through the process. They will need to clear everything up afterwards too (a dirty job, which they might not appreciate if they have got dressed up for the occasion). And your party venue may require you to have insurance in case you damage anything (or anybody) on the night.

2. Professional displays

Plumes of fireworks burst in the sky
Photo: Rob Watling (Author)

Professional pyrotechnicians are brilliant. And they are the right choice if you want something spectacular for your special event. They will do everything for you. And I mean everything. They will liaise with the venue, choose the safest firing site, do a full risk assessment, arrange the insurance, and advise you who needs to know about the display. They will design it, prepare it for firing, set everything up safely, tell the audience where to stand, fire it at the right time, and clear up the whole site. They can use professional grade fireworks (not available to the general public) which will be timed to perfection, choreographed to music if you want, and with added extras like lights and lasers.

Photo: Rob Watling (Author)

How much will the professionals charge? You should expect to pay a minimum of £100 a minute for your display, and allow at least 7 minutes to make it look spectacular. If you want your display timed to go with music, allow an extra £400 – £1000. This is because of the huge amount of work that goes into designing and fusing such a show, the computers and sound equipment that will be used, and the extra crew that will be needed on the night. So a 7 minute pyromusical display will be about £1200, a 10 minute display will be about £2000, and a full-scale, no-holds-barred extravaganza will be about £2700.

These are based on the services of our friends and partners at Electrify – one of the best and friendliest display companies in the UK. You may find a company who will beat these prices. But, if we’re honest, they will only do this by cutting corners. They may use cheaper, less-spectacular fireworks. They may not be insured. They may not pay their crew. They may use inferior technology or low-powered music systems. But there will be a reason – and they will not tell you what it is. In fireworks, like everything else, you get what you pay for. And if it’s a special occasion, do you really want to risk people being disappointed?

3. The massive displays

Photo Jason Tong (Flickr)

And finally, what about the great big events that you go to on Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve, attended by tens or hundreds of thousands of people?

Well the prices for these can be eye-watering. Several thousand pounds is a typical bill for a civic display in a local park. It can be up to 5 figures for the bigger events in cities. And it will definitely be more – much more – for the national celebrations at New Year, the Olympics, or the great political moments. 

These events have massive extra costs for publicity, security, additional entertainment, long set-up times, road closures, helicopter TV coverage, clearing up, insurance and so on and so on. The full cost of the London New Year’s Eve displays has been over £1million each year since 2003, and has risen to over £2million recently. The one in Sydney costs almost twice as much. These are not even the biggest in the world. The display in Dubai on New Year’s Eve 2014 is reported to have cost $6million and the one in Abu Dhabi in 2009 lasted for nearly an hour and cost $20million

So until you have that amount of money, it’s probably best to organise your own display in the back garden, or call in the professionals to do it for you at your next celebration.

We’d be happy to help you plan anything. But probably not the Sydney Harbour Bridge just yet.  

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year Ox

Chinese New Year, Feb 12th. It’s the year of the Ox and there’ll be plenty of fireworks going off around the world to celebrate. If you want to join in, please do so within the COVID guidelines for your area.

And tell your neighbours, as they may not be expecting it. Peak Fireworks of Nottingham, and some other suppliers around the country, have some special New Years offers. And we offer free local delivery. And, of course, all our fireworks are made in China! See peakfireworks.co.uk for details.

And, just so you know… Chinese New Year is one of the four days of the year when fireworks can be let off after 23:00. These days are November 5th (when the limit is 24:00) and Chinese New Year, New Year’s Eve and Divali (when the limit is 01:00)

Be kind on November 5th

people watching a fireworks display

There won’t be many public firework displays this November due to the COVID restrictions. Which means more people will be having small firework parties in their own gardens. (Subject to the local regulations where they live).

If you are planning such a party please be considerate to your neighbours. Don’t just buy the biggest loudest fireworks you can. There are plenty of smaller, beautiful ones which won’t rattle the windows.

Ask your supplier for advice on how loud any firework will be.

Please tell your neighbours when you are going to have your party. They may like to watch. They may want to stay indoors. They may want to look after their pets. (There is plenty of advice online about how to help nervous animals to cope with loud noises of any kind).

And most importantly, be safe. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. Follow the firework code, and get to the end of the evening without any mishaps.

Bonfire Night and COVID19

Large Garden Fireworks Display

Is it legal to have a bonfire night party in your own garden during the COVID pandemic?

Yes. It is perfectly legal . But you must follow the restrictions that apply in your area.

If you are in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 area you can have up to 6 people in your garden (including members of other households).

If you are in a Tier 3 area you cannot have anyone from outside of your household in your garden. But of course your neighbours can watch your fireworks from their own gardens. And you can even have a neighbourhood display as long as you all stay in your own gardens. Sounds quite fun, come to think of it!

10 tips for better wedding firework photos

Bride, Groom and guests look up at the sky during a fireworks display for a wedding
People watching fireworks burst in the night sky

So you’ve been asked to take photos of the fireworks at your friends’ wedding. They’ve asked for “great wedding fireworks photos”. And you’re nervous about getting it right. We’ve often met professional photographers at the displays I have fired over the years who have the same feeling – so don’t worry, you’re not alone.

But follow these 10 basic principles and you will improve your chances of success.

  1. Get the basics right. Our simple guide to fireworks photography is a good place to start. It contains all you need to know to get good results. But on a special request like this you will need to do more.
  2. Stay calm. Don’t drink too much before the display, even though it will probably come at the end of the evening.
Crew setting up firework display

3. Talk to the firers. They will be setting up the display during the wedding reception, and although they will be busy, they should be happy to explain what it is going to happen. This puts you in the prime spot for your project. They may even let you get some pictures of the set up.

4. Find out the plan. The firers can tell you about the timings, the products, the effects, how high the fireworks will be going. And they can tell you where you can stand safely to get the best photos.

Wedding fireworks with guests

5. Set yourself up in the best possible position. Get out there before the guests, set up your camera and tripod.

6. Take a few test shots. There won’t be much time once the fireworks begin. So do some tests and check them on the screen before the display starts.

7. Have a small torch. It’s going to be dark, and the buttons on your camera are hard to find in the dark. If you need to make adjustments, you will need to do them quickly.

photo of bride, groom and firework
Bride, groom and fireworks

9. Vary the timings. If you know how to shoot manual exposures and feel confident with them, be prepared to vary the shutter speed as you go along. That way you are “bracketing” your shots and are more likely to get something different and maybe even something really special.

Wedding fireworks with guests

10. Go for the unique shot. Everyone will have their phones out, taking random shots of the fireworks. And some of them will be fine. But you have the chance for something different. The photo at the top of this page was taken by a professional photographer who knew that catching the fireworks themselves was quite tricky. She decided to concentrate on the guests, and especially the bride and groom who were looking up into the sky, surrounded by friends and family, loving the moment. It’s one of the best wedding fireworks photos I have ever seen – and it doesn’t even have any fireworks in it!

Where is the best place to buy fireworks near me?

Classic Standard Fireworks advert with boy holding fireworks

I’ve worked with fireworks for nearly 20 years, and people often ask me “Where is the best place to buy fireworks?” and “Can you deliver fireworks direct to me at home?”

You’d think the answer is simple: Buy them from us! Peak Fireworks has a great range of fireworks for every budget and every occasion. We are open all year round And if we don’t have something in stock we can usually get it in a matter of days. We do free local delivery. And we only sell fireworks suitable for the place you want to set them off.

But of course not everyone lives near our office or store. So they go online and do a search for “fireworks shop near me” and see half a dozen or more different companies. Some are big. Some are small. Lots are only open at Bonfire Night. Quite a few don’t answer the phone. They have websites with unconvincing “special offers” or “buy this one, get this one free”. The choice is really hard to make.

So my advice to people is simple. Look around. Find a company you feel you can trust. And build a relationship with them.

A good, reliable fireworks company will usually look like this:-

They will be open all year round.
They won’t be selling cheap fireworks (which will only disappoint you).
They won’t be advertising prices like “RRP” “SSP” “Was £x” unless it’s a genuine sale.
They will talk to you and help you decide which fireworks are safe to use at your particular event.
They won’t try to make you spend more than you want to.
And they will be there to help you next year, too.

Good luck with your hunt for fireworks.

And most importantly, be safe. We want you and your audience to go home safe and sound at the end of your evening.