Tag Archives: fireworks

Summer Fireworks


Fourth of July Fireworks. Image by Renee Alfonso.

Last week the United States celebrated its birthday, and in true American tradition, the fourth of July was celebrated in the capital with a fireworks display that attracts thousands of tourists each year. In other parts of the US as well, fireworks are an independence day tradition, and many other major cities also boast their own displays, such as New York and San Diego.

Although fireworks are a global symbol of celebration, its origins are in Asian culture – with some of the most elaborate displays today being done in the Asian region today.

Fireworks originated in China, with the earliest recorded accounts of fireworks dating back to the 7th century. They were originally developed fireworks as a means  of entertainment for the emperor’s court. However they quickly gained popularity, and the science of firework-making became a respected profession.

Fireworks print

Woodblock print of Fireworks. Image via Era Woodblock Prints.

Europeans and western cultures came to know about fireworks in the mid 17th century, right about the time when Christian missions and colonial expeditions began to bring bits of asian culture back to their homelands. Early explorers called fireworks “Chinese flowers,” relating to the aesthetic qualities of the displays. Similarly, the Japanese term for fireworks, “Hanabi,” also translates to “flowers of fire.”

Fireworks are still traditionally Chinese and are a large part of the chinese culture, especially for festivals. Two of the major festivals celebrated with fireworks are the Mid-autumn festival and of course, Lunar new year. Today, China remains the largest manufacturer of fireworks in the world.

Fireworks over the Forbidden City

Image via Emperor Tours Ltd

Elsewhere in Asia, particularly in Japan, fireworks are also a cultural event, especially in the summer. Fireworks festivals, or Hanabi-taikai, are held throughout Japan, showcasing some of the most elaborate displays in the world.

Japan's fireworks festival

Image via Blog From Tokyo

Famous fireworks festivals in Japan include the Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai, held over the Sumida river in Tokyo, and the Yokohama Hanabi Taikai, which also takes place over water in Yokohama bay. During such festivals, street vendors set up stalls, where spectators can buy street food and also play games. Many people also wear traditional garb during the festivals such as Yukata (Summer Kimono)  and Jinbei (Summer shorts and short robe).

Going to the Yokohama fireworks festival

Spectators in traditional wear on the way to the Yokohama fireworks festival.

Waiting for the fireworks to start

Spectator view of the Yokohama Hanabi taikai

Of course, one doesn’t really need to go to a large event to see fireworks displays – provided you can purchase them where you are, you can try and have your own fireworks summer party. Smaller fireworks are generally safer and ideal for these events, but still definitely have a festive vibe.

Mini fireworks

Add some sparkle to your summer with some fireworks!

All images in this post by Renee Alfonso, unless otherwise indicated.

Posted in Culture, Travel | Tagged , , , ,

Inspired By Fireworks

Canada Day Fireworks

Today’s post is all about fireworks as an inspiration for design. Of course, fireworks were in invented in China in the seventh century shortly after the invention of gunpowder, but since then they’ve been lighting up the skies all over the world. The extraordinary shape and colour of fireworks have mesmerized audiences for their beauty, romance and power. A number of designers and artists have been inspired by them as well.


The patterns made by fireworks can be very organic and almost floral so I can see how they would end up as the inspiration for textiles, as seen in the dress pictured above. In monochrome, the explosions of light become beautiful graphic designs.

illuminated firework art via design sponge

I’m not usually a fan of DIY art ideas, but I really like this project featured on Design Sponge. Taking old flea market photographs Halligan Norris has painted fireworks into the sky. This beautifully simple project is nice enough to display year round.

Paper Sparklers- Say Yes to Hoboken

Here’s a DIY project for your Canada Day or Fourth of July celebrations that you still have time to make; paper sparklers perfect for shaking during the fireworks show. Of course real sparklers are more fun, but they can be dangerous for little revellers, so these are a perfect substitute.

firework studies- pierre le hors

Have you seen this art book by Pierre le Hors? This book contains photographs of fireworks rendered in black and white. They almost look like splatters of white paint against the black pages. You can see more images from this beautiful work here.

pretty penny designs

This organic cotton tote is hand silk-screened with gold and white fireworks. The print is subtle and modern and the bag looks roomy enough for all your summer essentials.

Coyote Fireworks- Roxy Torres

Here are some actual fireworks that showcase exceptional package design. This packaging for a fireworks set was created by student designer Roxy Torres out of simple canvas and burlap.   They’re so lovely to look at it would be a shame to blow them up.

Happy Canada Day to all of our Canadian readers, and to all of our American readers, have a great Fourth of July weekend, and a spectacular weekend to everyone else too!

Posted in Culture, Design, Fashion | Tagged