Blanes Fireworks Competition 2017
The 47th edition of the International Costa Brava Fireworks Contest will take place from Saturday, July 22 through Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
The fireworks festival — known locally as El Focs de Blanes or Concurs Internacional de Focs — always takes place during the Festa Major de Santa Ana de Blanes.
This feast in honor of Blanes’ patron saint lasts 8 days and always always takes place in the last full week of July.
Competitors ‘El Concurso Internacional de Fuegos Artificiales de la Costa Brava 2017’
This year 16 pyrotechnics companies applied to take part in the prestigious competition — 12 from Spain and 4 from abroad.
As always, the winner of last year’s competition — in this case Pirotecnia Hermanos Ferrández — is guaranteed a place in the current year’s festival.
The line-up for 2017 is as follows, with each show starting at 10:30 pm exactly:
- Saturday, July 22, 2016: Pirotecnia Vulcano, from Madrid
- Sunday, July 23, 2016: Pirotecnia Tomás, from Castellón
- Monday, July 24, 2016: Pirotecnia Hermanos Ferrández, from Murcia (Winner of last year’s competition)
- Tuesday, July 25, 2016: Régie Fête Pyrotechnie, from France
- Wednesday, July 26, 2016: Pirotecnia Pablo, from Asturias
What you can expect
Let’s be brutally honest. There have been plenty of fireworks presentations at the Blanes festival that were, to put it kindly, not all that special.
But then there are also plenty of shows that make it totally worth it to be there in person.
Take a look at the spectacular winning entry from last year’s competition, by the pyrotechnics firm of the Brothers Ferrández:
And here’s how Accitana Ma Angustias easily won first place in 2015:
5 nights of firework displays
In 2016 the fireworks competition returned to its original run of 5 days.
From 2012 through 2015 the festival lasted just four days — as a result of Spain’s financial crisis and its aftermath.
Dropping a day saved Blanes a lot of money normally spent on crowd control, safety measures and other police duties.
Last year the event attracted enough sponsors to enable the city to bring back the fifth night.
This high season event — the Festa Major plus the fireworks festival — always sees record crowds.
In 2016, some 100.000 people — more than twice the town’s population of 44.000 — watched the fireworks display on the opening night.
Saturday night — traditionally the busiest day of the event — saw a record crowd of 250.000 spectators.
If you’d like to spend the entire week in Blanes, make sure you book your hotel early.
The fireworks show starts at 22:30 (10:30 pm), and prime watching spots start filling up about an hour before the spectacle.
If you attend the festival from outside Blanes, do not come by car unless you’re prepared to park far away.
Best Places to Watch
The fireworks show centers around Sa Palomera, the rocky promontory (‘the rock’ to most tourists) that separates the old town center of Blanes from the newer part (El Pins, where most of the town’s hotels and camp grounds are located).
Just about anywhere you plan to watch will be crowded — super crowded. And yes, plenty of people have the same ideas you’ve got: to watch from spots on the hill of St. Juan, for instance.
However, you will be able to see the fireworks from anywhere along the coast. The tourist ferries usually have special deals available, in which you can view the fireworks from a boat — one of the best places to watch.
Keep an eye out for posters or fliers announcing such opportunities, often written only in Catalan and/or Spanish.
Other great spots: along S’Abanell beach. The closer you get to the camp grounds, the lighter the crowd.
Of course, if you prefer to be shoulder to shoulder, head on over to Platja de Blanes. That’s thee beach along the boulevard in the old part of town. It tends to fill up quickly.
The raised ‘jetty’ walkway north of Platja de Blanes (between the yachting harbor and the beach) is great place that provides you with a direct view of the show.
Rules and Penalties
The companies have to agree to a detailed set of requirements, including details covering the type of fireworks to be used, the length of the show, and safety measures to be observed.
The conditions call for the displays to be both aerial and aquatic. That means each show must include rockets and other fireworks shooting upwards and outwards, as well as fireworks that make use of the water surrounding the rock.
The idea is that the show must highlight the natural setting of Sa Palomera.
Oh, and participating companies must certify that any and all products used in their displays are completely biodegradable.
The company that opens the series of shows must prepare an illuminated, 8 meter wide and 1.5 meter high sign with the inscription: “Glòria a Santa Anna.”
Each company must also display a similar sign that reads “Blanes 2017.”
Participating companies agree to make sure their shows last a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 24 minutes, and that the fireworks are launched uninterruptedly with absolute continuity between the luminous effect of one launch and the one immediately following. (Yes, this makes for a truly awesome sight).
If a company fails to appear on the day of the contest, the City can impose a maximum fine of € 40,000. There are also various penalties for displays that are too short, or displays that start as little as a fraction of 1 minute too late.
The shows are judged by both a technical- and a popular jury.
The technical jury looks at such things as the type and variety of products used, the quality of the launches, and whether all of the firework products match the specifications set out in the contract.
The popular jury — which consist of up to 40 residents of Blanes — evaluates the offerings on color, rhythm, difficulty, originality, water fireworks, the effective use of the setting and the general artistic effect of the display.
In case of a tie, the opinion of the technical committee prevails.
The oldest reference to fireworks shows in Blanes dates back to 1891, but it is not clear when it became a yearly tradition.
What is known is that the event stopped when the Civil War broke out in 1936. It started up again in 1944, and in in 1970 the event became a yearly competition that was meant as a way to promote tourism in Blanes.
At first the competition lasted three days. In the mid eighties it was expanded to four days, and from 1996 it lasted five days.
As a cost-saving measure brought on by Spain’s financial crisis, from 2012 through 2015 the event covered only four days.
The year 2016 marked a return to the full, five-day festival.
The official website for El Focs de Blanes is in Catalan and Spanish only.