How We Overcame the Challenge of the Viking Space Invaders!

As the UK’s leading fireworks display organiser we are prepared for any challenge. Space is at a premium in any city centre and never has this been more true than at York’s hugely popular Jorvik Viking Festival. We have been firing this show for 11 years including 2024, and each year it becomes more challenging.  Read on for how we have overcome the demands of delivering spectacular fireworks shows, lighting and special effects in a confined space.


York’s rich Norse heritage is celebrated every year at the Jorvik Viking Festival, which draws thousands of visitors from all over the world. The festival offers a variety of events, such as re-enactments, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions, ending with a spectacular finale display of fireworks and music. Fantastic Fireworks has been the proud supplier of the technical infrastructure, including lighting, PA, and the finale display, since 2013, creating amazing shows that have impressed the audiences while honouring the Viking spirit. But putting on the Jorvik Festival finale display is not easy. In this blog, we’ll explain some of the problems we encountered and how we solved them, using our skills, innovation, and professionalism. We will also share some of the feedback we got from the festival organisers and the public, and how we aim to continue our successful relationship with the Jorvik Viking Festival in the future. 


Some of the challenges we faced in delivering the finale display include: 

  • Weather conditions: The festival is in February, which is a chilly and damp month in York. We’veexperienced almost everything possible from the weather during our involvement, including floods. This creates a significant risk for an outdoor event, as well as the spectators’ comfort. We had to make sure that our equipment and fireworks were adequately prepared and water-resistant, and that we had backup plans in case of rain, snow, or strong winds. 
  • Site limitations: The final show of the Jorvik Viking festival takes place at the Eye of York, a historic site that is surrounded by the York Castle Museum, the Crown Court, and Clifford’s Tower, which are all run by different bodies and need to stay open and functional during the event setup. This means that we had to follow strict rules about noise, smoke, and debris, as well as be careful of the history and beauty of the site. We had to plan our fireworks to suit the size and shape of the site, which has changed over time and to reduce the effect on the environment and the nearby buildings and their users. 
  • Theme and timing: The finale display is a show that lasts an hour and has fireworks that are arranged to fit the theme and the music of the festival. Every year, the festival chooses a different theme, like Norse stories, legends, or champions, and we had to find and pick the right fireworks to match that theme. This needed a lot of cooperation and contact with the festival planners and the performers, as well as accurate timing and execution. 


To overcome these challenges, we applied our skills and experience in the following ways: 

  • Weather conditions: We do all our pre-production work with the assumption that the weather in York might bring us snow, rain, or wind. We used equipment and fireworks that were chosen to be appropriate for the display, water-resistant and dependable in most conditions. We implemented systems to keep an eye on the weather forecasts closely and modified our firing angles and sequences accordingly. 
  • Site limitations: Since we could not fully access the event site until the night before the event, we set up our lighting in non-public areas using platforms that we could move on site for evening rehearsals. We used fireworks that were low-noise, low-debris, and low-smoke, and met the site’s noise requirements. We also used materials that were biodegradable and non-toxic, and minimized the amount of debris and residue. We visited and surveyed the site to check the size and the layout, and to spot any possible hazards or challenges. We also worked with the site managers and the local authorities to get the required permissions and approvals, and to follow the health and safety rules. 
  • Theme and timing: We plan the lighting design for the main show with the show director before the event and our technicians finish it with a full audio test and show rehearsal on the night before the live event. The finale display is set to a preselected piece of music, and we used different fireworks that suited the theme and the mood of the festival, such as mines, comets, and fountains. We collaborated with the festival organisers and the performers to learn about the theme and the music of the festival, and to make a storyboard and a script for the show. We also used a computerised firing system that let us coordinate our fireworks with the music, and to control the firing patterns and intervals. 


The feedback we received from the festival organisers and the public was overwhelmingly positive. Some of the comments we received include: 

  • “Amazing, the perfect ending to the festival. The fireworks were stunning and matched the theme and the music perfectly. Thank you, Fantastic Fireworks, for your professionalism and creativity.” – Festival Director 
  • “The fireworks show was spectacular; it was like watching a story in the sky. The colours and the shapes were beautiful, and the music was wonderful. It was a great way to celebrate our cities Viking heritage and culture.” – Festival Attendee 
  • “The fireworks display was the highlight of the festival. The fireworks were impressive and went with the music so well. It was a very memorable and emotional experience.” – Festival Performer 


It’s been an honour and a joy to light up the sky for the Jorvik Viking Festival finale since 2013. We have faced the obstacles of weather, site, and theme, and made dazzling shows that amazed the crowds and celebrated the Viking legacy. We have also built a solid and lasting bond with the festival organisers and the local community and got positive reviews and praise for our work. We are excited to keep working with the Jorvik Viking Festival in the future, and to bring more fireworks wonder to the people of York and beyond.