11th August 2016
Thousands of years ago a group of Chinese scientists accidentally mixed together chemicals to make an early form of gunpowder This was stuffed into old bamboo stalks and thrown into a fire to make a loud bang. These were thought to be the first fireworks. The Chinese then used this invention to scare away their enemies and evil spirits. Then in the 1830s Italian inventors invented a special casing which let them fire fireworks into the air. They also came up with ways to mix in different metallic powders to create different coloured explosions.
Now of course we are a lot more sophisticated. In fact, the fireworks that you will see in the skies above Plymouth will be some of the very best displays in the whole world. Here are a few facts about fireworks to inspire you before your visit this week!
- The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China. They were invented more than 2000 years ago in China.
- China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. 90% of all produced originate from here.
- Firework rockets can reach speeds of 150mph when they are set off.
- The reason why you can see one explode before you can hear the bang, is because light travels much faster than sound. Sound travels at a speed of 761mph, but light travels at 671,000,000mph.
- The very first display in England took place at Henry VII’s wedding to Elizabeth of York in 1486. The wedding was a pretty big deal because Henry and Elizabeth came from two families, the Lancasters and the Yorks, who had been fighting for many years. When the two married it brought peace to the two houses and stopped the fighting.
- Another Royal who loved them was Queen Elizabeth I, who even created an honorary title, “Fire Master of England” for the person who created the best fireworks.
- The biggest ever fireworks explosion was in Japan in 2014, and smashed the records for using the world’s heaviest firework! Weighing in at a staggering 460kg – that’s about the same weight as a fully grown polar bear! – it created a beautiful rosette of light which was 800 metres across.
- The title for the most fireworks used in a single display goes to the Norwegians who used a whopping 540,382 fireworks! The firework display lasted for one and a half hours. 15,272 fireworks weren’t counted because they didn’t light.
- The biggest annual display event in Europe is the International Festival concert held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in which a million fireworks are set off in less than an hour.
- At first fireworks were only orange and white. In the Middle Ages new colours were achieved by adding different salts. The hardest colour to create is blue.
- A string of firecrackers that went on and on lasting 22 hours marked the New Years day celebrations in Hong Kong in 1996.
Find out more about the event here