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Since 1967, the Bay of Cannes in the South of France has regularly vibrated with the colours and sounds of fireworks throughout the Summer months. With the constant evolution of new tricks and technical improvements, Cannes hosted the first official Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique (Fireworks Festival) in 2005. This annual event has since developed into a sort of World Cup of fireworks.

In order to compete, fireworks crews from around the world must first submit a project based on a pre-selected piece of music. The theme for the show can be decided by the pyrotechnic crew but the production must last at least 25 minutes. Three prizes are awarded at the end of the tournament: the Vestal Prize, the Jury Prize and the Audience Award.

For the 2012 event, we happened to be in the area when the German collective, Innovative IP were competing. But rather than just watching from inland, we were lucky enough to take a boat and witness the show directly above us in the Bay of Cannes. The organisers estimate a total of 200,000 people watch each show and there must have been about 300 boats in the water. From what is easily the best vantage point we were treated to a fantastic display.

The grand finale (known as le bouquet final in French) of the show is what many spectators look forward to the most. And in Cannes an interesting tradition has come about, which I was delighted to record. As a kind of applause, all the boats in the bay blow their horns to show their appreciation, generating a fascinating chorus.

The results of the competition were later announced with the Spaniards Pirotecnica Zaragozana winning both the Vetale d’Or (Vestal Prize) as well as the Audience Award (Innovative IP came a close second). The Jury Prize was awarded to Pirotecnica Morsani from Italy.

Photo credit : Design_Ex