Edinburgh International Festival - Fireworks Concert

A Sparkling High Note
The 60th Edinburgh International Festival (founded in 1947), always ends on a literally sparkling high note, with the Bank of Scotland Fireworks concert attracting an audience of around 250,000 spectators. The unique setting for the fireworks concert is the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, beneath the ancient ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.

The Fireworks concert is a major Festival event beloved by Edinburgh citizens and Festival visitors from around the world. Tickets for the Bandstand seats are sold out months before, while tickets for the Gardens are equally popular - families and groups of friends bring rugs and picnics and arrive around 7.30pm to find a prime spot. On Sunday 27 August, three hundred people - some having camped out in sleeping bags since 1am - joined the queue to secure the final batch of Garden tickets to be released. Demand was such that all remaining tickets sold out in just ninety minutes. Elsewhere it is a free event - Princes Street is closed to traffic so that the huge audience can stand safely to watch the spectacle. Other key vantage points are the Mound and the family viewing area at Inverleith Park.

The Concert - and the Fireworks
The sky was absolutely clear with hardly a cloud. At just after 9pm, conductor Garry Walker raised his baton and as the orchestra played the first few chords, immediately a series of rockets shot into the air from the castle battlements. The first piece, Montagues and Capulets, is in the form of a strident, dramatic march and the fireworks were timed with immaculate precision to blast into the sky, criss-crossing in each direction to the rhythm of the music. Through nine contrasting musical scenes the display of fireworks was truly spectacular with a never ending explosion of white, red and blue trails illuminating the night sky; during the moving Death of Juliet scene, rockets burst overhead into huge romantic red heart shapes which brought a united chorus of "Ooh, Aah" from the crowd. In quieter scenes a row of red shimmering lights glowed along the castle walls and then blanketed the castle in an eerie smoky glow. A familiar sight each year is the magical white waterfall of sparkling light, cascading down the rockface.

The SCO performed with great passion and energy while the fireworks were choreographed with perfect synchronisation. Wilf Scott is the firework display designer who works with a team of fifteen pyro technicians to prepare the 100,000 fireworks (around 200 in each sequence) which are set off during the 45 minute concert. An American visitor is also wowed by the Edinburgh Fireworks concert.

"In San Francisco, I had the pleasure of being there for the 4th of July celebrations. Now the yanks know how to put on a celebration but the firework display that was put on here paled in comparison to the Edinburgh fireworks."


The truth of the matter is that no city in the world has such a spectacular backdrop to any display as Edinburgh does. It is simply one of the most beautiful sights ever seen. The display can be viewed from various parts of the city. The most popular is Princes Street but one word of warning, 100,000 people also think this, so if you are going there, go early. If you are in Scotland around the time of the fireworks make a special effort to see them - you will not be disappointed.

Vivien Devlin
Deputy Editor of Hotelreviewscotland.com
September 2006

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