Updated April 2, 2017: Details of the 2017 edition of the Blanes Fireworks Festival.
The 47th edition of the International Costa Brava Fireworks Contest — will be the same as last year: Saturday, July 22 through Wednesday, July 26.
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, which lasts 8 days, always takes place in the last full week of July.
It is not yet known which companies will participate in the competition
However, as per tradition, the winner of last year’s Blanes Fireworks Competition (2016), Pirotècnia Hermanos Ferrández, is guaranteed a place in the upcoming festival.
2016 and earlier
The 2016 edition of the annual international fireworks competition in Blanes — officially named El Focs de Blanes or Concurs Internacional de Focs — will take place from Friday July 22 through Tuesday July 26.
Yes! Five days instead of four!
Note: Prior to 2012 the competition ran for five consecutive days. At the height of Spain’s financial crisis it was decided to drop one day.
Doing so saved Blanes a lot of money normally spent on crowd control, safety measures and other police duties.
But since the event this year attracted enough sponsors, it was decided to restore the fifth day.
The dates for the 46th International Costa Brava Fireworks Contest “Trofeu Vila de Blanes” have been officially confirmed by the Departament de Cultura i Festes (Department of Culture and Festivals) of the Ajuntament (City Hall).
(Of course, as always, the winner of last year’s event will be there).
Record crowds are expected during this high season event. Book your hotel early.
The shows start at 22:30 (10:30 pm), and prime watching spots start filling up about an hour before the spectacle.
No wonder: In 2013 the opening night alone drew 80.000 visitors — double the town’s population.
In 2014, 100.000 people watched the fireworks on the first night, and Saturday night — traditionally the busiest day of the event — saw a record crowd of 250.000 spectators.
Competitors ‘El Concurso Internacional de Fuegos Artificiales de la Costa Brava 2016’
Ten pyrotechnics companies applied to take part in this year’s Blanes fireworks competition.
As mentioned above, this year the festival is back to its full run of five days.
- Friday, July 22, 2016: Firevision, from China
- Saturday, July 23, 2016: Pirotècnia Accitana Maria Angustias, from Granada: winner of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions
- Sunday, July 24, 2016: Fireworks Lieto, from Italy
- Monday, July 25, 2016: Pirotècnia Pablo, from Asturies, Spain
- Tuesday, July 26, 2016: Pirotècnia Hermanos Ferrández, from Murcia, Spain
2015: The Winning Entry
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 this example, from 2015 winner Accitana Ma Angustias:
2014: A Winner and a Loser
The pyrotechnics firm Maria Angustias Pérez from Granada in Andalusia, won the 44th Concurs Internacional de Focs d’Artifici de la Costa Brava. The company, whose show was presented on Friday night, also won last year’s competition.
As always the winning company receives a cash prize of €6,000 and was also be invited to participate in the next year’s competition (2015). In addition, the company was also invited to launch the fireworks display at the 2014 Sant Narcís Festival in Girona (October).
In 2014 the fireworks competition was opened by the pyrotechnic company — and three-time festival winner — Tomás de Castelló, and was closed by first-time participant Pirotecnia Privatex from Slovakia.
On Saturday, traditionally the busiest day of the festival, the fireworks display of pyrotechnics company Zaragozana met with disaster. With a record crowd of 250.000 visitors Zaragozana’s computer system malfunctioned, resulting in a lackluster show.
For the first time the sky above Blanes remained dark and silent for few minutes after the show was supposed to start — resulting in booing from the disappointed onlookers.
When the show did start, it was different from what it was intended to be. As fireworks had to be launched manually, and yet safely, there were many delays between the various displays.
While the crowd did applaud a few times, the overall show was very disappointing.
The locals are used to seeing high-quality events, and many visitors in the record crowd came from afar to attend the prestigious event. The lusterless show turned into something of a marketing nightmare for the town.
The competition’s strict rules — designed to ensure that participants meet the event’s high standards — call for steep penalties when certain conditions are not met.
Founded in 1860, Zaragozana is one of Spain’s oldest fireworks companies. It has participated in a number of Blanes competitions, winning second- or third place on several occasions.
Eventually, a solution was worked out between the city and the company.
Why Four Days?
Prior to 2012 the event ran for five consecutive days. At the height of Spain’s financial crisis it was decided to drop to four days.
Doing so saves the city a lot of money normally spent on crowd control, safety measures and other police duties.
Four pyrotechnic companies will participate, including as per tradition, the winner of the 2013 competition — the Andalusian company, Pirotècnia María Angustias Pérez.
According to the official rules, if the Blanes Town Council secures financing, through sponsorship, it may select a maximum of two additional pyrotechnic companies which will also be invited to participate in the contest.
Each participating company is paid a maximum amount of €19,000 per show.
The winning company receives a cash prize of €6,000, taxable, and will also be invited to participate in the next competition. In addition, the winner will also be invited to launch the firework display at the 2014 Sant Narcís Festival in Girona (October).
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.
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 2014.”
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.
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 also have special deals available, in which you can view the fireworks from a boat — one of the best places to watch.
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.
Until recently the raised ‘jetty’ walkway north of Platja de Blanes (between the yachting harbor and the beach) was a great place that provides you with a direct view of the show.
However, there’s a lot of remodeling and new construction going on at the yacht club. As part of the project a new walkway will be constructed (which will lead to a new landing spot for the ferries). It is not clear at this point whether the project will be finished on time for this year’s tourist season.
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 on the event has covered four days.
The official website for El Focs de Blanes is in Catalan and Spanish only.