Le Maitre staged a spectacular pyrotechnics display from the roof of Harrods to mark the switching on of the store’s Christmas Lights on 3 November.
The event coincided with a proposed 48-hour nationwide fire strike planned to start on November 2. To address the issue, Le Maitre’s events director Karen Haddon employed private fire crews to cover the event and arranged for Harrods’ own fire officers to be stationed on the roof itself. In the event, the strike was called off at the last minute, but these arrangements were kept in place for added security.
The display, designed by Le Maitre’s Mark Thomas, ran for just under 15 minutes and was choreographed to the James Bond theme tune. The show was fired by the Pyrodigital controller (the same system that fired the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Harbour Bridge Millennium displays).
Beginning with chase sequences of stage pyro across the front of the roof, using flames, gerbs and candles, it then progressed to large-scale fireworks including mines, comets and a dramatic finale of multi-shot cakes and 3″ shells.
Mark Thomas explained that the main difficulty of designing a show like this is the location of the building. Harrods is a very famous London landmark, and as the department store is in Knightsbridge it is surrounded on all sides by public roads. This meant that the effects could not drop any debris because of the crowds below. Le Maitre’s safety officer recommended that only low calibre material was used in the design and that it had to be sited well back from the front of the building.
Planning and preparations for the display took many weeks, including an entire week for a team of tehcnicians to fuse and waterproof every single effect. Safety regulations meant that the fireworks could only be brought onto the roof of the building on the day of the display, which meant a battle against the clock for Mark and his team of pyrotechnicians.
After all the extensive preparations and after all the difficulties had been overcome, the show was a huge success. It drew crowds from all over London to marvel at the fantastic effects lighting up the sky for many miles around, and which for many marks the start of the festive season.
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