International Fireworks Competition lights up Pattaya this weekend

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Four new countries will compete to see who can put on the best pyrotechnics show as the Pattaya International Fireworks Competition returns for a fifth year this weekend.

Teams from Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom will dazzle Pattaya Beach with their rockets’ red glare Friday and Saturday night during a day-long street festival that also includes food, music and entertainment.

A scene from last year’s exciting International Fireworks Festival.A scene from last year’s exciting International Fireworks Festival.

Friday’s festivities begin and 3:30 p.m. and run through 11 p.m. while Saturday runs from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. Beach Road will be closed to traffic both days from 3:30-11 p.m. and all side streets from Second Road will be blocked.

The fireworks themselves begin at 9 p.m. each day with the show split into the parts. Two competitors will put on individual shows of 20-25 minutes each night beginning at 9 p.m. Then, at 10 p.m., the teams not competing that night will put on a short demonstration at 10 p.m.

VIP seating will be available and booths selling food and other souvenirs will be open around the Central Road intersection and along the beach.

Entertainment includes a parade, stage shows, concerts, magic and juggling acts and 3D painting photography starting at 5 p.m. both days.

At a Nov. 24 planning meeting, Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon laid out plans for traffic, security and fire coverage. Fire trucks will be stationed at three locations between Central Road and Bali Hai Pier and four rescue boats will be waiting offshore in case of fires.

This year’s show marks the third year in a row in which host country Thailand will not participate. Last year saw teams from Japan, the Philippines, Switzerland and Taiwan paint the sky in a rainbow of colors.

Originally designed as a two-year Ministry of Defense competition to honor Their Majesties the King and Queen, the International Fireworks Competition kicked off in Thongthani in December 2009. Pattaya held two rounds of the event, in August 2010 and, after a month’s delay due to the national flooding crisis, December 2011. Teams from Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and the United States faced off against Thailand to see which country could put on the most dynamic and colorful exhibition.

After losing the Defense Ministry’s sponsorship, the festival continued in 2012 with only four teams and no participation from Thailand, other than the country donating celebrity “honorary captains” for teams from Canada, China, Singapore and the United States. Thailand will not participate in this year’s display as well.