For an evening surely to go off with a bang, there’s nothing better than incorporating a literal bang.
Of course, only a safe and beautiful bang will do. Whether you’re watching the best fireworks display you’ve ever seen or you’re opting for an at-home firework event, it can be fun and interesting to be able to identify each explosion in the sky.
Is it a Peony? Is it a Flying Fish? Is it a Comet? Or is it a Cake?
There are actually 21 different types of fireworks that are used all over the world to light up the sky in the most awe-inspiring way possible.
That’s why the team here at The Hobby Kraze wanted to bring the ultimate guide to fireworks for a night of pyrotechnic fun. Who knows, you might discover new types of fireworks that you can hunt out for your next big event.
Whether it’s for bonfire night, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a wedding or a loved one’s birthday. Here’s everything covered in this sparkler of an article:
- What is a Firework?
- What is the History of the Firework Event?
- What is the Difference Between a Firework and a Firecracker?
- What are the Different Categories of Firework?
- What are the Best Fireworks Display Dates and Locations?
- What are the 21 Different Types of Fireworks?
What is a Firework?
A firework is a controlled explosion. And, while the invention wouldn’t fly if it were devised here in the modern 20s, it is certainly a staple for any big celebration.
Most fireworks are designed to shoot into the sky and explode with light, colour and minimal debris at a safe distance with a loud bang (just for aesthetics, of course).
In terms of the history, the meaning of fireworks derives from an ancient Greek word called ‘pyrotechnic’ which is still used today in everyday science to mean fire art or light show.
And, while these pyrotechnic devices can vary so drastically between each of the 21 different categories of firework, the simplest of them all features five key components.
This is a long wooden or plastic stick at the end of the firework. It holds two purposes: the first is to help plant the firework to point in the intended direction of travel and the second is to help the firework continue travelling in that right direction.
This is either a piece of paper, string or cut of fabric that connects to the charge and allows for take-off. Once ignited, there is an allotted amount of ‘escape’ time before the flame gets to the charge. It also follows through the charge and into the effects segment to tell the pretty colours and shapes to explode after the rocket is in the air.
As mentioned, the charge is the part of the firework that takes lift-off. It is a simple pyrotechnic that has the capacity to propel the firework into the air for about 100-feet at the speed of a fighter jet (hundreds of mph).
This is what makes novelty firecrackers, novelty. It determines the pretty colours, displays of light, intrinsic designs and ear-popping bangs. The effect is what can make the best fireworks display stand out from the next town over as they are specially chosen to be a part of a light show. Essentially, they are much like the charge in that they are explosives, but they are packed differently, containing metal oxides and metal salts while being designed with sight-seeing in mind.
Finally, there’s the head of the various types of fireworks. This feature is also called the nose cone and often contains the effects (which also have another name of the payload) and provides an aerodynamic approach high into the sky. This means it’s less likely to stray or receive air drag.
What is the History of the Firework Event?
It wouldn’t be an ultimate feature if the team here at The Hobby Kraze didn’t time travel back to the beginnings of something. Especially when it includes fun adventures featuring loud bangs at a stunning firework event.
The origins of the firework can be traced all the way back to the China Tang Dynasty in around 800 A.D.
It is said a Chinese cook found a way to create crude gunpowder by mixing together chemicals such as sulphur, charcoal and saltpetre (this is potassium nitrate which is often used throughout the UK as a fertilizer!).
However, there are many out there who believe the origins of the types of fireworks comes from the Song Dynasty in 960-1279 A.D. with an entirely different ancestry of chemicals.
Despite this, it is often believed the discovery of gunpowder was an accident made in the attempts of finding eternal life. In these experiments, the crude gunpowder was tightly packed into small bamboo shoots and thrown onto a fire. It was here that the first firecracker exploded into existence.
Skipping ahead a thousand years or so, an Italian explorer named Marco Polo introduced China’s gunpowder into Europe in the 13th century.
We might be well-familiar with the story from here. As the story goes, a man named Guy Fawkes gathered among conspirators angry with King James I after he refused to grant Catholics with higher religious tolerance.
This violent group devised a plot, later to be known as The Gunpowder Plot, in which they snuck barrels of the Chinese gunpowder underneath the houses of parliament with the intention of blowing it (and King James I) to Kingdom-come.
Luckily for parliament, the plot was exposed the night before the firework event was due to take place. In a feat of irony, Fawkes was held captive in the cellar where he hid his gunpowder, then tried and tested before conviction.
Afterwards, parliament declared November 5th to be the annual event of thanksgiving with the first firework event held in 1606 using the different categories of firework to represent the explosives that were never set off.
Since then, some of the best firework display shows using novelty firecrackers have been held throughout the UK as a tradition featuring bonfires, music and light shows across the country.
What is the Difference Between a Firework and a Firecracker?
This is a question that often gets thrown around the pyrotechnic community regarding the different categories of firework; This is because the names ‘firecracker’ and ‘firework’ are used interchangeably (incorrectly). Despite the firecracker being one of the many different categories of firework featured within the best fireworks display.
We’ve already covered what a firework is; an explosive designed to fly high and go bang in the sky. However, a firecracker is a small device containing tightly wound gunpowder in a heavy paper cylindrical casing.
These firecrackers have a fuse and are designed to let off a loud and startling bang when exploded. Often, they’ll also have a small light show, but this is simply incidental to the gunpowder design.
Much like fireworks, themselves, novelty firecrackers originated in China. However, interestingly; the firecracker came first!
What are the Different Categories of Firework?
There are four different categories of firework that should always be looked at when buying fireworks.
While you won’t be able to get your paws on some of the types of fireworks that light up the night sky, it’s always best to understand which ones you can set off in your back garden.
Here are the four different types of novelty fireworks you can come across here in the UK:
F1: Indoor Fireworks
These fireworks are designed to be used in smaller roofed areas. With this, these types of fireworks tend to have a low noise level to avoid disturbance and any unwanted eardrum crackles.
While they are designed with a level of safety for indoor usage, everyone still needs to stay at least 1 meter away from the firework at all times. This is to account for any flying debris.
There isn’t typically a fuse burn for these types of fireworks as they light and erupt instantly, but you can buy some that offer you the chance to jump that 1 meter away.
F2: Garden Fireworks
These are the types of fireworks you’ll most likely come across when you head to your local store to get some bangers together for a bonfire night celebration.
These provide the best fireworks display in the garden with relatively small yet mighty explosions such as the single Rocket or the Catherine Wheel.
The hazard level is still classed as low, as well as the noise level, but it doesn’t mean they’re entirely safe to play around with. After all, they’re still reminiscent of the explosives Mr Fawkes tried to use on that fateful night.
With that, these novelty fireworks require a distance of at least 15 meters to allow for a debris blast of 8 meters. Luckily, they tend to feature an 8-second fuse to give you a fighting chance at running away.
F3: Display Fireworks
While still safe for consumers, these different categories of firework are significantly more dangerous, loud, space-demanding and experience-demanding.
They are sold and classified as having a medium hazard level, medium noise level, 25-meter standing distance requirement, 15-meter debris fly zone and up to 13 seconds for the fuse.
Examples of the F3 different categories of firework include Fountains and Roman Candles. Both, of which, have a completely different meaning in the explosive world than they do in a regular world. For one, the Fountain does not feature water or chocolate!
F4: Professional Fireworks
Finally, we get to the not-safe-for-consumer types of fireworks where novelty firecrackers and rockets pale in comparison.
F4 fireworks offer the best fireworks display due to the tailored make-ups, high flying blasts and gigantic explosions of stunning artistry. Hence being for professional use only while you watch from a distance with hot chocolates and fresh donuts.
Pyro-technically speaking, the F4 types of fireworks have a high hazard level, high noise level and a varied (but still very high) distance requirement for viewing and debris falls.
As well as this, F4 category sparklers are operated and mixed using computers at a safe distance away rather than with a generic fuse.
However, one thing to note is that these four different categories of firework are very often confused for the four different hazard categories also associated with fireworks.
This information is useful if you’re designing a firework event of if you’re the haulier behind the wheel because it only refers to the transportation of fireworks as a potentially hazardous material.
The four hazard categories are:
- Hazard Type 1: a very high chance of mass explosion.
- Hazard Type 2: a serious projectile hazard.
- Hazard Type 3: a minor blast and projectile hazard.
- Hazard Type 4: a low fire hazard (these types of fireworks you’ll be able to purchase and annoy your neighbour with on bonfire night!).
If you’re looking to buy fireworks for an at-home firework event, you’ll only be able to get your hands on either the F1 or F2 and in rare occasions F3 categories of firework. This is simply due to the safety aspects and the space available to you.
Any F4 types of fireworks can only be used by professionals as they’ll be classified as Hazard Type 3 or Hazard Type 4 explosives!
What are the Best Fireworks Display Dates and Locations?
There are some events the world can take part in, enjoying throughout the day. For example, New Year’s Eve.
When Australia begins celebrating, the UK is just having lunch and watching in awe on the news. When we wake up hungover the next day, we’ve still got stunning novelty fireworks shows to watch on the West coast of the US.
But it isn’t just about having a blast, it’s about having the best fireworks display in the world and in history. It’s like every country is competing for the spot to become the best New Year’s Eve destination of the year.
Luckily, if you can’t wait until New Year’s Eve to enjoy artwork in the sky with a bang, you can travel around the world joining in the celebration wherever you are.
The team here at The Hobby Kraze have gathered together some of the biggest and the best fireworks display events you can find on every continent. They’re not in any specific order, so you’ll have to continent-jump to decide for yourself on the best types of fireworks.
- Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night: November 5th in the UK
- New Year’s Eve: January 31st worldwide
- Independence Day: July 4th in the US
- Diwali: November 4th in India
- National Day: August 9th in Singapore
- Australia Day: January 26th in Australia
- Celebration of Light: July 17th in Canada
- Thunder Over Louisville: April 17th in the US
- Katakai Fireworks Festival: August 1st in Japan
- Swiss National Day: August 1st in Switzerland
If you do decide to travel around the world chasing the night sky celebrations, consider where you can stay by having a look at our article, “17 Different Types of Resort and Finding the Holiday to Suit You”.
What are the 21 Different Types of Fireworks?
Fireworks feature different salt and metal compounds such as sodium for yellow and copper for green. And it’s really the science and experimentation with all these compounds that let us know how the firework is going to react and which of the 21 different categories of firework we’re setting alight.
Take a look at which types of fireworks could be lighting up your sky tonight:
An Aerial Repeater is a medium-sized cube filled with tightly bound tubes; these tubes are small fireworks fused sequentially. Therefore, when the fireworks shoot into the night sky, they have a successive show of one burst after another with a bang in the air for the colours and the effect.
The Brockade firework brings a stunning effect of a number of stars trailing in the night sky. As the rocket-type explosion sets off, internal fuses work through the effect, igniting smaller fireworks at it flies. With this, there is a succession effect of falling stars trickling down.
The Bombette is a soft firework classed as F2. It is a follow-on effect deriving from other fireworks such as the Roman Candle. The explosion itself features a single flare climbing high before blasting into many different flares of another colour (often white) while falling back down in a willow effect.
Also called the Barrage, these types of fireworks are a collection. The purpose of the Cake is to have one box filled to the brim with an assortment of novelty firecrackers and fireworks in order to hold the best fireworks display in the back garden. These small boxes pack-a-punch with everything from the Aerial Repeater to the Roman Candle.
One of the most popular at-home fireworks for those with little ones, this F2 is also known as the Ring of Fire. Simply put, a wheel has a rocket angled for propulsion, after the rocket is trailing, smaller firecrackers begin to light the wheel in a succession of colour and effects.
Much resembling the true-to-life astronomical marvel of a comet flying through the sky, these types of fireworks leave a trail of sparkle in their flight path. They are much like Rocket fireworks with a little more ‘pizzazz’ designed in the effect of the firework event.
The Cone is the Rice Krispy of ground fireworks because it includes all the snap, crackle and pop you could need for the best fireworks display at home. Starting life as a cone filled with gunpowder and metals, the F1 Cone does not shoot into the sky, rather using a fountain-like approach with some added novelty firecrackers in the mix.
Day Time Effect
Day time fireworks are smoke bombs exploding with clouds of colour. And, while they don’t fly high in the sky, make a whiz bang noise or need a fuse to explode, they are still classified as a firework. Originating from Japan, these F1 fireworks can be used indoors (even as hand-held devices) and feature similar chemical reactions as typical types of fireworks with more oxidisation and daytime beauty.
These different categories of firework refer only to the after-effect (or after-explosion) of the novelty firecracker, itself. While typically featured alongside other effects such as the Peony, the Falling Leaf has remnant embers that gently sway back and forth as they fall back down to Earth.
These types of F1 fireworks consist of a string of cylindrical bangers attached to one-another by the fuse. The Firecracker often carries the iconic red casing and is used for everything from pranks to film tricks.
A Flare firework has the job of glowing the brightest in the sky. They can either be ground fireworks or part of a Rocket to brighten the night. The most iconic flare colour is red but as there are no large sparks, bangs or flying debris, they can be classed as either the F1 or F2 categories of firework.
The Flying Fish is as graceful as it sounds (not very). After the firework takes off for a high-fling adventure, a following bang results in many smaller trails of embers and sparkles. However, it’s not as simple as returning back to the ground, these sparks burst into different directions travelling in a very fast drunken corkscrew motion.
Like the Flying Fish, the Fountain is as graceful as it sounds (very). If small, these fireworks can be classed as F1 but are mainly F2. They don’t have a large explosion and are typically a quiet burn for those simply wanting to watch stunning visuals of colour. The sparks simply flow out of the top of the Fountain and fall to the ground much like a waterfall of fire.
A Girandola is one of the most beautiful types of novelty fireworks with nothing much like it. They begin life as a very big F4 wheel laid flat with spokes containing various tubes of gunpowder. Thruster Rockets ignite for lift off and the wheel is manually set in spinning motion. The Girandola takes a spiral flight before the fuse releases a Barrage of explosions with Peonies, Rockets, Flying Fish, Flares and so on.
Also known as a “pot á feu”, Mine types of fireworks have a very short and impactful life as an explosive. With the highest noise levels, and a variety of flash bang effects in the sky, the Mine firework is an F3/F4 category firework starting life on the ground while shooting many small novelty firecrackers into the sky.
Parachute fireworks do exactly what they say on the tin; they explode in the sky and, as debris falls, small parachutes release allowing them to glide back down to reality.
This is one of the most common of the different categories of firework and are very often seen at the best fireworks display because they bring an immediate sense of beauty, nostalgia and joy. The Peony firework rides a Rocket into the sky and explodes to reveal a gigantic circular flower of coloured sparkles. These can even have designs that show gradient colours for petals of the Peony.
Another of the most associated types of fireworks at any given firework event, at home or at the annual bonfire is the Rocket. As an F2 type of firework, they are fit for garden use. This pyrotechnic device can reach the tallest stars in the sky due to their aerodynamic casing and design. Some can even reach around 60 meters before the report (loud bang).
A Roman Candle is typically a type of Cake in that it features various novelty Firecrackers, Rockets, Fountains and more. However, unlike the Cake, the Roman Candle has a long tubular body and is often planted in the ground at an angle so the soft Flare balls can be appreciated in all their glory.
As an F1 in the different categories of firework, the sparkler is a small stick covered in a special metallic gunpowder that sparkles when ignited. They can either be planted in the ground, in a pot or in your hand as you hold the sparkles for the perfect photoshoot. They can come in various colours, but favourites tend to be the bright white light or golden glimmer.
Finally, in the 21 types of fireworks you can come across when making the best fireworks display at home, it’s the Willow firework effect. The Willow is an aerial effect that – when exploded in the sky – can often look like the Peony. However, the effect continues as it has delicate golden trails that stay high in the sky before slowly trickling down for ten seconds.
With that, we’ve had our final bang, pop, whiz, whistle, spark, blaze, crack and blast in this firework event of an article.
Before we leave you, we have a fun fact for you to behold. In 2018, Saudi Arabia celebrated its 88th annual National Day event by exploding into a new world record of 900,000 fireworks to light up the sky during one firework event.
Prior to this, the world record holder was the Philippines New Year’s Eve event in 2016 which launched 810,000 to celebrate new tides.
If you’ve found this article fun and interesting, then don’t forget to like and share or even have a look at all the other fascinating guides to hobbies, adventures and all sorts here at The Hobby Kraze.
For example, did you know there are 16 different types of roller coaster? To find out more about this adrenaline-filled ride, have a look at our article: “The 16 Different Types of Roller Coaster and Where the Drop Will Take You”.