Beginners Start Here!
A structured walk-through of my guides for firework novices.
If you are new to fireworks and don’t really know what you’re looking for or don’t understand the various firework types, don’t worry, everyone starts somewhere! Whether you are simply looking for a few fireworks for the back garden or something bigger like a wedding display, this article will walk you through my key guides to the basics.
A reminder that it is perfectly legal in England, Scotland and Wales to purchase and let off fireworks any time of the year, but you must be 18 years or older to buy them and you must finish your display by 11pm.
Step 1: DIY or professional?
The first thing to establish if you’re wanting fireworks for an event is whether you need to buy the fireworks yourself and let them off, or to employ a professional display team to do it for you. Nearly all back garden displays in the UK will be DIY displays using consumer fireworks. Whereas weddings, public and bigger events often employ the professionals to take care of things.
My DIY or Professional Fireworks? guide explores this in more detail.
If you’ve decided that consumer fireworks are for you, continue reading. If you’re going to use a professional service, you can jump to step 7.
Step 2: Learn about the different types of fireworks
It’s time now to learn about the different types of fireworks available to UK consumers. In addition to helping you decide what to use, it will also help you understand firework retailers’ websites and catalogues.
The guides to cakes, candles, rockets, fountains, wheels and more can be found on the Firework Types main menu page.
That page also goes on to link to various other fireworks which are no longer legal in the UK. I am including this information as many older readers might be returning to fireworks and are wondering where bangers, Jumping Jacks and the likes have gone.
Step 3: Learn about firework categories and safety distances
Now you’ve learned the basics of what each type of consumer firework is, have a delve into the firework categories guide. This explains the difference between Category F2 and Category F3 fireworks that you’ll find in firework shops and the different spectator safety distances each one has. It also explains what 1.4G and 1.3G mean.
You can find this guide here: Firework Categories, Classifications & Safety Distances.
Step 4: Learn about firework laws and fireworks storage
A number of important laws relate to fireworks and their use. These are summarised in the Firework Laws & Regulations Guide, including what time you cannot let fireworks off after (and exceptions for certain dates). Minor changes were made to the laws for Scottish residents, from July 2021, which you can read about in that article.
If you’re storing fireworks for any length of time you should also read my Safe Fireworks Storage guide which runs through the legal limits for home storage.
Step 5: Do you need insurance?
As a general rule, private displays in your own back garden do not need to be insured (the assumption being that any damage you cause would be covered on your household policy).
However if you’re staging a public display, say for a community event or similar, insurance is strongly recommended. In that case have a read of my Fireworks Insurance article.
Note: If you’re employing a professional team they would be covered by their own public liability insurance.
Step 6: Do you need training?
Training is not a legal requirement in the UK for consumers buying and using fireworks. However if you’re displaying to the public and taking out insurance cover, it might be a condition of your policy that firers undertake some form of training.
My Fireworks Training article looks into your options.
Step 7: Buying your fireworks
The most fun part of course! I have a complete section guiding you through buying fireworks, whether that’s consumer fireworks or professional services. I also look at firing systems and fuse.
So head over to the Buying Fireworks guides for more advice on this step.
Step 8: Setting up your fireworks
If you’re buying consumer fireworks for a DIY display then you’ll need to know how to safely set up your fireworks. My guides cover every type of firework and show you not only how to set up individual items, but also broader subjects of importance such as site layout and coping with bad weather.
Read more here: Setting Up Fireworks. Note: You don’t need to read this section if you’re employing a professional team, as they will set up their own fireworks for your event.
Step 9: Firing your display
Using the right equipment to fire your display is imperative in keeping it safer and more smoothly flowing. I explore your options including hand lighting or using a remote firing system.
Read more here: Firing Your Display. Again, this is not required reading if you’re employing a professional team, as they will take care of the firing too.
Further information and help
The guides above cover all the main aspects of using fireworks and as you explore UKFR you’ll find plenty more to read up on. However if you’re still stuck, or have a question not covered here, by all means let me know. You can do this by joining – for free – my Fireworks Forum and asking our online community. We welcome beginners and no question is too silly.
I also have a glossary of all the main firework terms which you can read through: Fireworks glossary.