The French Riviera is known for being the holiday destination of choice for many of the world’s most wealthy businesspeople. It is famous for designer shopping, the film festival and world class hotels. However what you might not know about Cannes is that every summer thousands descend on the city to watch the best fireworks Europe has to offer.
The displays take place from pontoons floating on the water, allowing the public to watch from land either lined up by the road or at one of the restaurants with waterside dining. Others park boats the other side of the pontoons and watch from there. This year there will be five competing performances, each set to music, with France providing an additional finale display.
The night I attended was the first display of the competition, produced by Azerbaijan. The title of the performance was Azerbaijan – Diamond of the Caspian Sea. While waiting for the fireworks to start I felt nervous for the organisers of the display – they had obviously put a lot of work into the night – but I needn’t have worried. It was an incredible spectacle of light and sound, with a strong, classical soundtrack intended to be a signifier of proud patriotism. The fireworks themselves were extremely impressive and beautiful, but the sound delay between seeing and hearing the firework meant that while the fireworks visually kept time with the music, the bang was one second later than the actual explosion, which was somewhat strange at first. I was watching the display from the beach restaurant of the Carlton hotel, which put on a fantastic meal of foie gras, turbot and lemon tart. The turbot in particular was delicious, and the wine served with the meal matched it perfectly.
The display lasted longer than I expected, and there must have been thousands of fireworks in the exhibition. I couldn’t help myself from wondering how much the demonstration must have cost! The city of Cannes is known for ostentatious displays of wealth like this, with Ferraris and £2000 handbags being the norm around these streets, but I had never seen so much money spent on something so temporary. It’s not just Cannes which indulges itself in pyrotechnics though – Montreal’s L’International des Feux Loto-Québec and Manila’s World Pyro Olympics also offer companies the opportunity to compete for their country by putting on a display.
If you would like to watch the display online, visit http://www.festival-pyrotechnique-cannes.com/en/public-prize. Here you can also vote for your favourite performance!
Image credit: http://www.cote.azur.fr/images/images_actualites/9737_1342444580.jpg