Blanes Fireworks Competition, 50th anniversary edition, postponed until 2021
As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, the 2020 edition of the popular Blanes Fireworks competition has been postponed until July 2021.
Traditionally the Concurs Internacional De Focs D’Artifici De La Costa Brava takes place during the last full week of July. The fireworks competition always coincides with the Festa Major de Santa Anna — the 8-day celebration in honor of Santa Anna, the patron saint of Blanes.
This year would have marked the event’s 50th anniversary. It was meant to last 6 days — one day longer than usual. The pyrotechnics companies had already been selected to take part in the competition: four from Spain, and two from abroad.
In honor of the anniversary various events had even been planned from March through the end of the year.
However, though the coronavirus lockdown in Spain is largely over, ongoing security measures such as social distancing and a ban on large-scale events will remain in force. That make it impossible to let both the Feste Major and the fireworks competition take place.
The fireworks competition draws tens of thousands of visitors a year. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowds gather on the beaches and boulevards to see the fireworks.
Feste Major in reduced form
On July 15 the Blanes City Council said it planned to organize a reduced version of Feste Major, on July 24-26. 2020. The 26th is known as Santa Anna’s day — the focus of the festive activities.
However, just five days later Blanes mayor Ángel Canosa announced that — due to fresh COVID-19 in various towns and communities throughout Catalonia — even the reduced version of the feast would be suspended indefinitely.
Earlier the city had said it planned to pay tribute to all those who have worked on the front line since the start of the pandemic. One idea was to carry out a small salvo of fireworks as a salute in memory of the families, patients and fatalities of the coronavirus.
The traditional fairground attractions that normally line the boulevard along the old town center have also been cancelled.
Information below this line includes details and dates of previous Blanes fireworks events. This article will be updated with information regarding the 2021 competition as soon as they become available (usually toward the end of April).
Book your hotel now
This is a hugely popular event, during the height of the high tourist season. This makes it essential that you book your hotel, B&B, or guest home as soon as possible.
[As with many details, the competitors for the 2021 event are not yet known.]
Rules and guidelines for this year’s competition have been be made available to national and foreign pyrotechnics companies. Each of the five companies selected will receive €19.000 in order to prepare their shows.
- Tuesday, July 23, 2019: Fuegos Articificales Hermanos Ferrández, Spain (winner: 2016, 2017, 2018)
- Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Pirotechnica Poleggi, Italy
- Thursday, July 25, 2019: Pirotechnica Valenciana, Spain
- Friday, July 26, 2019: Pirotechnica Temexson, Romania
- Saturday, July 27, 2019: Pirotechnica Zaragozana, Spain
Winner of the 2018 Fireworks Competion
For the third year in a row, the competition was won by Fuegos Articificales Hermanos Ferrández, Murcia, Spain. The company also won the 2011 contest.
Here is their price-winning show:
Below is information about the 2017 edition, which concluded on July 26, 2017.
Further down you will details about the festival’s history, its current format, and the rules of the contest.
Blanes Fireworks Competition 2017 — Winning Entry
For the second year in a row the Blanes Fireworks Competition has been won by Pirotecnia Hermanos Ferrández, from Murcia
Their display lit up the skies on Monday night, to the delight of the crowd:
On Saturday night Pirotècnia Vulcano started off this year’s competition — and they set the bar high:
Vulcano won second price.
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.
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.
- The Feast of Love tradition hails back to 1906. At the time the hills surrounding the beach of Sant Francesc were still covered by vineyards instead of the multi-million homes you see today. Citizens of Blanes — young and old, and from all social classes — would arrive at this beach on foot or in their small, wooden boats. It was customary to bring homemade food and goodies. The men would fashion ‘tables’ out of sand, which were then covered with table cloths. Of course the sardana was danced, with musicians playing on the rocks at the beach. ↩