Canada 150: Ottawa to put on largest fireworks show in Canadian history

Jun 2 2017, 5:13 am

Fireworks budgets for Canada Day events across the country this year are seeing an uptick to provide annual celebration events a big boost for Canada’s 150th birthday.

This is particularly the case for the federal government’s planned fireworks show at Parliament Hill in Ottawa as this year’s extended 20-minute, 17-second-long show will have a massive budget of $276,840.

And while this may be the entire budget of Canada Day events in other communities, this figure in Ottawa is just for the fireworks alone. None of this budget goes towards other elements of the festival’s costs, such as live entertainment, logistics, equipment, and security.

This promises to be the largest fireworks show in Canadian history, and it crushes past annual Canada Day fireworks at the capital, which already are the nation’s largest for the occasion.

For instance, the 2016 fireworks show at Parliament Hill had a significantly smaller budget of $88,727 over 15 minutes, making the 2017 budget over three times larger.

The nation’s largest annual summer fireworks festivals, L’International des Feux Loto-Québec in Montreal and the Honda Celebration of Light in Vancouver, do not come anywhere close.

The Montreal event has a nightly fireworks budget of approximately $150,000 for each of its 30-minute-long shows while the Vancouver event has a budget of roughly the same for its 25-minute-long shows.

And Ottawa’s super-sized New Year’s Eve fireworks on December 31, 2016 marking the start of Canada 150 celebrations had a budget of $213,570 over 25 minutes between two separate early evening and midnight shows.

Six firing locations

Ottawa is going to be lit on Canada Day.

This year’s Parliament Hill Canada Day fireworks will be launched from six different locations around Parliament Hill.

Thousands of large calibre high-aerial shells including 150 shells between eight and 12 inches will be launched from:

  • Nepean Point, located just behind the National Art Gallery of Canada
  • The bottom of the cliff next to the Alexandra Bridge

While many fireworks shows will only have a couple 12-inch fireworks, the largest authorized fireworks in Canada, the upcoming Ottawa show will have at least 30 of these giant shells.

Another 15,000 smaller individual fireworks will be launched from:

  • Two unspecified locations along Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa
  • Two unspecified locations along Confederation Boulevard in Gatineau

In a request for proposal earlier this year, the federal government was particularly meticulous in outlining to prospective pyrotechnic contractors what kind of fireworks display it wanted.

“It must have an impressive beginning (minimum of one [1] minute), a moderately paced middle portion, a ‘false finale’ at approx. 4 minutes from the end and followed by a grand finale of minimum one (1) minute,” reads the tender. “The pyromusical fireworks display must be spectacular, colourful and appealing to the spectators.”

Additionally, any “dead air time” during the show cannot exceed three seconds with no shells exploding.

And the show must be designed as a pyromusical, with fireworks launched from all sites synchronized to a soundtrack. The show’s theme is ‘Four Seasons’ and the soundtrack is completely Canadian.

Montreal-based Royal Pyrotechnie was awarded the contract in mid-February to deliver the epic show. The award-winning pyrotechnics company stages over 300 shows per year and will represent Canada in this year’s Honda Celebration of Light.

Ottawa’s Canada Day fireworks show kicks off at 11 pm.

Live music and the Royal Tour

Ottawa’s mega Canada Day 150 festivities on Saturday, July 1 consist of live music and programming, including three stages with the main stage located at Parliament Hill.

Artists and groups scheduled to perform include Walk Off The Earth, Serena Ryder, Alessia Cara, Gordon Lightfoot, and a Cirque du Soleil troupe.

With this year’s celebrations being much grander for Canada 150 and with Prince Charles and his wife Camilia slated to partake in the event as part of a short Royal Tour, the Ottawa festival will likely have a budget much larger than the traditional annual budget of about $4 million.

Canada Day crowds in downtown Ottawa usually hover at around 300,000 people, but this year’s event could swell to levels higher than even the 500,000 reached during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit.

The federal government is spending $200 million on Canada 150-supported events across the country, including an unknown amount for a five-minute Canada Day fireworks show at the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. The last time the tower was lit up for fireworks was for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American Games.

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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