I have been lucky enough to witness some of the greatest fireworks spectacles on the planet.

Lets compare three amazing locations, Pattaya bay, Sydney Harbour and Rio de Janiero.

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

Beginning with the the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival which is to celebrate the kings birthday.

Several countries compete to see who will be crowned the winner. Compared with the other two cities the actual fireworks display is not in the same class, however the Pattaya Beach location more than holds it own as one of the world’s great beach views. I am fortunate my condo actually overlooks the bay so I have a first class seat.

Pattaya bay Video

Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro at 2pm NYE, the crowds begin to arrive.

Copacabana is a different ballgame altogether, two million people swarm to this magnificent location for new years eve. Tradition dictates 90% of them wear white. In 2007 I paid B15,000 to attend a cocktail party overlooking the beach from the 12th floor of a hotel. As well as the 2 million screaming Brazilians there were nine cruise liners anchored off the beach watching the spectacle. I was the most exciting New Years celebration I have ever experienced. Check out my Copacabana photo blog.

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

Check out the video for all the Copacabana action

My craziest fireworks experience was New Year Eve on Sydney Harbour in 1981.

I guess back in those days I was probably a bit of a party animal, I owned a waterfront condo on Sydney harbour, and my favourite pastime was filling up my boat with food, booze and beautiful girls and spending days and nights on the what is without a doubt the greatest harbour in the world. I know I’m turning the clock back many years to 1981 but the memory of that crazy night is still vivid in my mind. My pride & joy was a Bertram 25 called “little Slammer”, it could comfortably accommodate 10 people but on this night we squeezed 17 on board. Dinner at a harbour-side restaurant dragged on and we were running late for the fireworks due to start at midnight beside the Sydney Opera House.

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

​Fireworks in 3 fabulous cities

By the time we all got on board it was around 11.30 pm and is was a good 30 minute journey to the Opera House so I gave the boat full throttle and sped toward the Harbour Bridge. We arrived in record time about 11.55 and I was weaving through the 1500 or so boats like a drunken sailor, which of course I was, searching for a spot to anchor that was not too close to any of the hundreds of spectator craft. Hallelujah, what seemed to be a minor miracle unfolded before my eyes. A clear circle of water right in the middle of all the boats, so naturally I gave out a cheer and dropped the anchor just as the first fireworks explosion sounded right above us.

Elation quickly turned to fear as huge smoking wooden rods started raining down upon us. As I said at the start It was like we were caught in a Beirut bomb zone with huge sky rockets peppering the overloaded boat causing some of my friends, in particular my good mate​​ Harley, to dive overboard in the middle of the harbour to escape the carnage.​ At​ the​ ​centre​ of the mayhem & panic it suddenly occurred to me we were smack bang in the middle of the fireworks “drop zone” which the water police had cleared in readiness for the show before retreating out of danger themselves.

I sprang into action like a drunken super hero and pulled up the anchor in record time, then fled the danger zone. No mean feat as my boat lacked an electric winch, so I had to manually pull the damn thing up by hand while standing on the bow.

We moored safely out of harm’s way and assessed the damage, naturally Harley was the most wounded, soaking wet with minor burns on his arm, plus a few small cuts from the smashed champagne bottle he was holding when hit by the first rocket.

Well we settled down and watched the rest of the fireworks reliving the experience that would be told many times over in the coming years, our own personal “great escape”.

Written by David Herd
the FiveStarVagabond

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