Quiet firework displays: Is that really a thing?

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Quiet firework displays:  Is that really a thing?

Yes and No!  Firework displays no longer have to be loud, there is a range of products which are classed as lower noise and we have spent time sourcing the best of them!  I (Chris) was recently on BBC News and BBC Radio talking about quiet fireworks and how we design quiet shows for our clients so its something we know a thing or two about.

There are a number of different low noise fireworks, for example there are effects which do not have loud bangs to spread the effect out in the sky but rather gently pop the effect out and let it gently float down (as is caught quite nicely in the photo above).  Other effects are simply just smaller and therefore don’t create as much noise when functioning.  We all remember fountains from our childhood garden fireworks displays which do not create much noise, these effects (only larger) along with coloured flares and other ground effects are also very low noise.

But please remember, there is no such thing as silent fireworks!  Despite what the media like to say, logic should prevail, unless you want a display made of sparklers don't expect a silent display.

Some quieter effects still need what we call the lifting charge to get them into the air, however when they get in the sky the effect is quiet, this ground level noise of the lifting charge does not travel as far as the noise from aerial bursts which are much higher up and therefore the sound travels much further.  The lifting charges are unavoidable as the firework has to get into the air somehow but you find this noise is quickly absorbed by ground level objects.

Chris on BBC news talking about low noise fireworks

Then we move onto impression, the whole point of a fireworks display is that it’s impressive and noise is a key factor in that.  The way to get around this is to use other methods of providing that impressive feeling.  One way we do this is by using lots of quieter fireworks in long lines creating a wide impressive vista.  Imagine a piece of art on a wall, 1m by 1m, then imagine a piece of art on a wall 1m x 100m where you have to look left and right to see the whole work, that is the principle at play here.  Another way to make low noise firework displays more impressive is to synchronise them to music.  Fireworks to music introduces another emotional dimension which really changes the dynamic of the show.  If music being played outdoors is acceptable for a short amount of time, 3-10 minutes for example then this is a great way to keep the show impressive.  Generally in pyromusical fireworks shows we have quiet sections which are often the most emotionally powerful segments of the show.  With a pryomsucal show the fireworks are hitting the beats in the music, almost dancing along like a fine ballet!  If having a PA system outdoors is not acceptable at the venue then we can also provide silent disco headsets for all the guests at an additional cost which solves that problem nicely.  Sonning Fireworks have won awards for their pyromusical firework displays so you are sure to get an amazing show if you choose to have it synchronised to music!

low noise firework display

So let’s look at the level of noise, this is purely subjective and can only be judged by trial and error.  The layout of the site, the proximity of the neighbours and other such factors can play a big part in working out the level of noise that is acceptable.  Our normal shows tend to follow the 50/50 rule, being that 50% of the show uses quieter fireworks.  We try to follow this rule as much as possible as we feel it’s a responsible way to run our business to help reduce issues with neighbours and to help secure the longevity of fireworks displays in the UK.  Moving on from those shows being our “normal” shows we then have shows where the majority of the show is quieter however the finale is that of a normal display.  These can be justified along the lines of its no different to a thunderstorm or a car back firing. Finales can last between 5 and 30 seconds so there is some fine tuning which can be done there.  The last type of show uses entirely quieter fireworks.  In order to create an impressive finale for fireworks displays using entirely quieter fireworks we use accelerating sequences of single shot comets and mines in clever chase sequences usually finishing in crackling effects which again are ground level noise.

So we’ve talked about types of fireworks, how to make the show impressive and the level of noise, but what else can be done by a venue to mitigate complaints from firework displays?  Over the years we’ve found that simply keeping a list of people whom complain so they can be rung or emailed notifying them of the fireworks display can go a long way to placating any further complaints.  Also trying to keep the shows as early as possible can help.  There’s a big difference between firing a show just before the 11pm curfew to firing a show at 9pm.  You have to be careful however as in the summer it can get dark pretty late so you can’t have a fixed 9:30pm curfew for example.  A number of venues we work at try to stick to having fireworks over by 10pm but with some leeway for the longer days in the summer.  There are those venues who take a harder line on complaints simply stating they have done everything in their power to ensure the fireworks are not too late and are as quiet as possible and therefore are not being unreasonable. 

In terms of the law it is very difficult for a venue to be banned from having firework displays unless they have continuous shows every weekend.

From a clients perspective should you be worried that a venue has said lower noise shows only?  Definitely not, although you should check what the venue actually means, we are seeing an increasing trend of venues saying they allow fireworks only to turn around after booking and putting unrealistic restrictions, like, "The fireworks must be totally silent", "You can use the paddock area but it will be full of cars", "Fireworks must be finished by 9pm, at end of June, when its still light". 

We have performed quieter shows for a long time and have sourced some fantastic products to ensure your show is impressive, innovative and as awe-inspiring as a normal show.  

From a venues perspective, should I be concerned about using Sonning Fireworks to perform lower noise firework displays at our venue?  Again definitely not!  We see venues as partners, we are not the enemy and we aren’t there to battle with you, we want to continue firing shows at your venue long into the future and we will work with you to ensure that will happen.  In fact we work with a number of venues solely because of this collaborative attitude!

Choose the experts in quiet and low noise firework displays!


Sonning Fireworks are committed to ensuring the longevity of firing firework displays at the venues they work at.  Their core company values of professionalism, collaboration, quality and safety are what makes them stand out above their competition when dealing with venues.  Please contact us now for information on low noise or quieter firework displays

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