How to Set up a Fireworks Show

With careful preparation, you can be launching spectacular fireworks safely yourself.


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    Remember to have fuse connecting everything together or have a store bought detonator for them to go off at the right time.
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    Determine what is legal: Find out what fireworks are legal in your area. Call your local police and fire station, as they will have the answer.
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    Find available fireworks. Write down what fireworks you want to buy before buying them. Contact local stores to find out what fireworks they will be selling. Be sure to also ask the price of each item. Set an amount of money you plan to spend (this might be anywhere from £75 to £250 or about $150 to $500). Try to buy your fireworks 1-2 weeks before the event, so you know you are able to get them.
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    Create your show. After buying your fireworks, you need a rough plan of your show. Scope out your show area and draw a sketch on a pretty big piece of paper. After that put where your fireworks will be in the area. Remember that small items go in front and your biggest items furthest away from the audience. Draw several plans, one for each of your mini-shows. Give a copy to each of your helpers and go over it so they know what to do.
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    Set up during the day. You'll need a display area. Look for a flat, open area free of dry grass. Once you’ve found that, buy some cheap plywood and set it down on the ground. Figure out what you want your show to be like. You should only fire a few fireworks at a time, and this should last at least 2-5 minutes. Each mini show should have a variety of fireworks; for example, each show could consist of 2 smoke balls at the beginning, immediately followed by two different fountains spread out, then a few bottle rockets and at the end a rocket or two. Once you’ve determined what each show will consist of, put the fireworks back in boxes in the order of your show.
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    Wait until dark. Let it get fairly dark before letting your fireworks spark. Once you’re done setting up for your first mini-show, make sure the audience is at least 50 feet (15.2 m) back. Have two people light each side of the show in the order you made. Remember, if any fireworks do not go off, let them sit and then douse them with a full bucket of water. And remember, have fun!
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    Be prepared or else. This may seem like overkill, but it can help to have a small butane torch on hand, there is nothing that kills a show like a dead punk. Also if using artillery shells (you will if you want a good show, keep all shells in locations shielded from sparks. If you don't, you could have a catastrophic accident on your hands. Also make sure artillery shells canisters are well secured, do not let one tip one over.
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    Make a good show. Make sure you have distractors, These can be used to keep peoples eyes in the air as you light off something big. And lastly, go all out in the grand finale. Last impressions are the most important for a firework show.


  • Read all of the instructions on the warning label.
  • When setting up the display that day, make sure you have a few packages of fuse readily available, any fireworks that seem to have too short of a fuse to light, add a little extra too it.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for the kids to throw their burnt-out sparklers into. This will prevent some nasty "barefoot" injuries.
  • If you are willing to spend the extra money, buy about fifty bottle-rockets (if available in your area legally) and let them off ten a day, five days before the event. It should get everyone around you excited for the celebration to come.
  • Never approach or attempt to re-light a firework that does not go off. Dispose of it after about 2-3 minutes with nothing happening, in a bucket of water.
  • The most basic and popular fireworks are snap pops. These are the only fireworks that should be approached by children seven or eight years and younger, depending on your own rules. These are great for the day and at night.


  • Always have water nearby.
  • Only ignite fireworks when you can be safe, sane, and sober.
  • Know what each item does; some fountains, rockets, and roman candles look alike. Something you thought was a fountain may become deadly if it suddenly launches into the air. Most fireworks are labeled with terms like "shoots flaming balls", "rocket with report", "explodes", or "emits showers of sparks". Be familiar with each of these terms.
  • Never approach a "dud" that doesn't immediately fire - you could get an unpleasant surprise!
  • Keep a safe distance from detonating fireworks to protect from burns and ear damage. Wear safety glasses or ear plugs if necessary.
  • Keep spare charges or fireworks a safe distance from the launch area. Wind picking up a stray spark can lead to a dangerous explosion.
  • Allow for the legal minimum safe distance between your fireworks and spectators, trees, or buildings. For "aerials", the minimum safe distance is the height of the shell plus the diameter of the air burst. Add extra distance (up to 100m) depending on wind conditions.
  • Never use fireworks in non-firework areas.
  • Always read the warning labels.
  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area/county.
  • Never put fireworks in your pockets.
  • Never use illegal fireworks.
  • It is illegal in England for children under 18 to buy fireworks.
  • Sparklers burn at up to 2,000 degrees(F) and should not be handled by children under 12 years old (without adult supervision).
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Spark fountains are dangerous for children and the elderly.

Things You'll Need

  • Fireworks
  • Water

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