The British Firework Championships were started in 1997 by The Event Services Association (TESA), a trade body representing the outdoor events industry in the UK. For some time there had been some discussion among professional display companies in the industry about creating an annual competition where they could demonstrate their skills.
After considering a number of venues around the UK, Plymouth became the favoured location as it was felt to provide a natural amphitheatre where large scale pyrotechnics could be used safely and watched from a variety of points around the harbour and Sound. Following discussions with the City Council in the mid-1990s, a partnership agreement was formed to launch the event in 1997.
Since then the Championships have grown hugely and are now recognised as the premier annual display in the UK, attracting 10s of thousands to the City each August.
Each year six professional display companies are selected by draw to take part – three on each evening of the event -and every sixth year there is a Champions event when winners from the previous five years (plus the previous Champion-of-Champions winner) return to battle it out for the overall title Champion-of-Champions.
Despite varying weather conditions over the years – and even a World War II bomb being found on the site – the event has successfully taken place every year since it started, although in 2012 (a Champion-of-Champions year) the judges decided not to name a winner after gale force winds limited the scope of some of the displays on the second night. Star Fireworks won the re-run Champion of Champions event in 2013.