Is fire in the sky a true story?

July 12, 2018

Gozitan summer weekend nights are often alight with fireworks. Gozo’s villages are notorious for putting on firework displays during the festa days, and this adds to the spectacle of the festa itself.

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We all know that fireworks are explosive pyrotechnic devices but there’s a lot more to know about them.

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Which is your favourite one?

First of all, there are many varieties of fireworks.  There are fireworks that are let off during the day and they are mostly salutes and noisy petards that at times have small lighting bursts.  But the spectacle is mostly at night.  Firework effects over the years have been refined and every year new techniques are introduced in the displays.  Typical effects include brocade (star-bursts with golden clusters), comets (which as the name suggests is a projectile leaving a glittering trail), chrysanthemums (a spherical burst that looks like a ball or a flower), dahlias (a burst that alights the sky with a starfish-like shape), glitter (a spray of strobing glitter effect), crackle (results in a crackling sound and golden glitter), whistles (spinning projectiles with sharp sound) and strobe effects. The above, are locally referred to by a variety of names such as blalen, refgħat,  beraq pront, tal-ħsejjes, sfejjer, tal-imsielet, tal-kulur and bil-forom.

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What about Ċikċifogu?

Traditionally the ċikċifogu display consisted of a series of Catherine wheels and pinwheels that when ignited result in a profusion of sparks and flames and fireworks in spectacular movement. Usually, such displays are mounted in the main squares of the villages but in recent years, the complexity and size of such displays (and the time needed to prepare them) has meant that in some cases, the displays are held in empty fields or open spaces in the village itself. Displays synchronised to music are becoming the norm in many villages and this is taking the traditional spinning wheel to new levels.

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From where can you watch fireworks display?

When you’re in Gozo, the backdrops of the landscape make the fireworks more spectacular, adding to the allure. The night time fireworks displays are easily enjoyed from the central square in the village, but you will find that most fireworks aficionados will be following the spectacle either from rooftops or from specific vantage points outside the villages. If you’re keen on watching a fireworks show, you can ask the locals for tips from where to best enjoy the fireworks.

One truly cannot but admire the industrious fireworks factories who year after year toil, put in so much passion and expertise in putting on these fireworks displays. It is thanks to them that Gozo can delight with the story of fire in the sky!

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