It’s got to rank as one of the best free events in the country.
No wonder Plymouth gets chosen year after year as the host city for the National Fireworks Championships.
The Sound provides a spectacular natural amphitheatre where the UK’s best pyrotechnic experts can show off their skills to full effect.
Six companies battle it out each August, with their 10-minute displays running over two nights. It’s high octane, multi-coloured, blazing drama provoking thousands of collective “oohs and aahs” from the appreciative masses gathered on the seafront.
As long as the weather holds out, it makes for a truly magical evening. Hundreds of yachts, pleasure cruisers, small boats and dinghies congregate in the harbour before the sun goes down, jockeying for the best vantage point. Some take shelter below Jennycliff, at the eastern side of the harbour, while others anchor off Drake’s Island which is the perfect place to enjoy the exploding night sky.
When the sun sets The Sound is transformed into a beautiful black expanse bedecked with thousands of coloured lights from the boats. Awesome!
There’s a real party atmosphere on The Hoe and along the seafront as the crowds gather in their thousands for a spectacle which has become one of the highlights of the city’s events calendar.
The Hoe hosts a funfair to coincide with the fireworks and some of the death defying thrill rides offer an amazing view of the city and The Sound (if you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open). Heart Radio provides live music and fast food stalls ply spectators with burgers and candy floss.
The crowds are most dense on The Hoe, especially in the grassy area around Smeaton’s Tower. But there are so many good viewpoints all along the foreshore that it’s easy to find plenty of free space to pitch your picnic rug. The grass bank below the Citadel is a good spot or try the rocks, steps or foreshore below the Terrace Café in Madeira Road.
These are all ideal places to get a great view of the fireworks which are launched (with a hi tech digital firing system) from the pier at Mount Batten, across the water from the Barbican.
The Terrace Café, Wet Wok and Waterfront restaurants are all perfectly placed eateries along the seafront where you can enjoy a meal and the fireworks at the same time – but make sure you book well in advance as they’re packed out when the championships are taking place.
Another good watering hole (with very decent food) in a prime spot for firework gazing is Chandlers Bar and Bistro at Queen Anne’s Battery marina. You can see the displays from their outside terrace or for an even better view stand out on the breakwater, a stone’s throw from the Mount Batten firing base. The marina is an easy walk from the Barbican via the lock gate.
The firework championships attract visitors from all over the country and some come from abroad specifically for the event. To avoid traffic congestion and parking headaches, drivers might want to think about using the three Park and Ride services from Milehouse, The George Junction or Coypool on the outskirts of the city. Extra buses are laid on during the two nights of the championships.