Japan wins 2017 Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition

Aug 8 2017, 4:54 am

Japan, represented by AKARIYA Fireworks, impressed this year’s panel of judges to win the 27th annual Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition, event organizers announced this morning.

This was the Kanto region-based pyrotechnic company’s second championship win in Vancouver since 2014 when it participated in the competition for the first time and won.

Its theme for the show on Saturday, July 29 was “Land of the Rising Sun”, telling the story of the country’s history from the Shogun era to modern times.

AKIRAYA Fireworks, representing Team Japan, with help from Sirius Pyrotechnics prepare the barge for the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light fireworks. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The accompanying fireworks soundtrack featured music from The Last Samurai by Hans Zimmer, Taiko from Cirque du Soleil, and Two Steps From Hell by Audiomachine. It chose “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen to fulfill its competition requirement of including a Canadian song.

“Congratulations to Team Japan on their victory at the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light, putting on a show that won’t soon be forgotten,” said Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie, who is a long-time judge for the fireworks.

“They put on an intense pyrotechnic display that resonated with the public and expressed a compelling theme. We congratulate AKARIYA Fireworks on their performance and look forward to welcoming them at the Honda Celebration of Light once more in the future.”

Full video of Japan’s 25-minute show at the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light:

The Japanese team beat the United Kingdom (Wednesday, August 2) and Canada (Saturday, August 5), represented by Birmingham-based Jubilee Fireworks and Montreal-based Royal Pyrotechnie, respectively.

The competition was won by the United States, represented by the Walt Disney Company, in 2016 and Canada, represented by Archangel Fireworks, in 2015.

According to organizers, it is estimated over a million people packed the beaches and parks around English Bay over the course of the three nights this year.

“We want to thank all of the partners, sponsors, staff, volunteers and members of the public who continue to come together to make the festival a fun, safe, family-friendly event,” said Paul Tilbury and Heather Owen, co-chairs of the Vancouver Fireworks Society, the non-profit organization that stages the event annually, in a joint statement.

“We look forward to dazzling everyone with yet another phenomenal Honda Celebration of Light next summer!”

The winner of the People’s Choice award, determined by members of the public who voted through the festival’s app, was also won by Japan.

Organizers will announce the dates for the 2018 event this fall.


How the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks are judged

Viewing the fireworks from the Keg Lounge Stage atop the English Bay Beach bathhouse building, the panel of judges are asked to evaluate each fireworks show based on the following six criteria:

  • 10 points – Sizing of the show and good balance in show size: From beginning to end, the best shows will have good highs, lows, and a big finale. Smaller and less frequent fireworks sections could either build towards a climax or reflect the slow-paced music being played.
  • 30 points – Overall design and artistry, thoughtfulness, visual structure, and rhythm: The fireworks display should match with the soundtrack, which should deliver a theme. Furthermore, there should also be an emotional response – it’s not just about big explosions.
  • 20 points – Synchronization and timing: The fireworks and other pyrotechnic effects are well-timed and synchronized from the start to the end of the song, right down to the very last note.
  • 15 points – Originality of effects and new and novel effects: The use of new products and orchestration of original scenes.
  • 15 points – Quality of soundtrack is professional and well interpreted with connections: A high-quality, professional, and fluid soundtrack mix that interprets the theme well, with highs and lows that provide breathing space and entice excitement, emotional responses, and anticipations.
  • 10 points – Quality of fireworks is of good quality with technical precision: The best shows use quality constructed fireworks and produce less smoke (with wind and humidity conditions taken into consideration). Fireworks should explode and colour properly; unplanned low breaks and ground explosions are obviously undesired.

Panel of judges for the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light

  • Lisa Arthurs, Board Member of the West End Business Improvement Association
  • Stephen Collier, Dealer Relations Manager at Financial Services for Honda Canada
  • Raymond Louie, Vancouver City Councillor and Board Chair of the Pacific National Exhibition
  • Sophie Lui, Global BC News Hour Anchor
  • Matt Meehan, Senior Vice-President of Planning at Concord Pacific
  • Michael Wiebe, Vancouver Park Board Chair and Commissioner

Past winners of the Honda Celebration of Light

  • 2016: United States (Walt Disney Company)
  • 2015: Canada (Archangel Fireworks)
  • 2014: Japan (AKARIYA Fireworks)
  • 2013: Canada (Fireworks Spectaculars)
  • 2012: Italy (Pirotecnica Soldi)
  • 2011: China (Red Eagle Manufacturing Industrial and Trade Co. Ltd.)
  • 2010: Spain (Pirotecnia Igual)
  • 2009: China (Red Eagle Industrial and Trade Co. Ltd.)
  • 2008: Canada (Archangel Fireworks)
  • 2007: Canada (Archangel Fireworks)
  • 2006: Mexico (Lux Pirotecnia, S.A. de C.V.)
  • 2005: Sweden (Unique Pyrotechnic AB)
See also


Daily Hive is a Proud Media Partner of the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light