There are lots of different events all over the globe that call for fireworks to really wow the crowd. In the UK, fireworks for sale become a hot topic every November with public and private events lighting up the winter sky. And in the US, the Fourth of July is one of the biggest causes for a firework display. You might think fireworks are a modern tradition, but they actually date back hundreds, if not thousands of years. Let’s delve into the history of fireworks and how they’ve evolved over time. 


There is some debate as to whether fireworks originated in China, the Middle East, or India. However, scholars can agree that in A.D. 800, the earliest concoction of gun powder was made in ancient China. This discovery was made quite by accident as the alchemists involved were actually looking to create an elixir to provide them with eternal life. Upon realising what they had really made, they began stuffing the powder into bamboo shoots and throwing them into the fire. Thus, creating the first fireworks. Although they probably looked a lot different from the bright displays we’re used to seeing, this exciting invention would go on to allow them to create rockets, much like the ones used in displays today. 

Journey To The West

Gunpowder was first brought over to Europe in the late 1200s, but it would be used for weaponry before it became the popular crowd-pleaser we’re used to. Jesters however did harness its recreational use and would trick the public with it. The first recorded firework display in the UK was for Henry VII’s wedding in the year 1486 and then it became common to use them during celebrations and religious occasions too. 

Colourful Italy

The people of Italy became such lovers of fireworks that they opened firework schools during the Renaissance. By the early 1800s, they even discovered how to add colour to them by using small amounts of different metals. Before Italy figured out how to create even more beautiful displays with different colours, all fireworks were orange making them seem far less impressive than the incredible displays you’d see in modern times. 

Modern Fireworks

Most countries around the world have at least one celebration a year that calls for a fireworks display. With so many displays happening throughout the year, you might be surprised to learn that the Walt Disney Company uses more fireworks than anyone else. Some countries however are not fans of fireworks and limit their sales. For example, Norway will only sell fireworks just before New Year’s Eve and that’s it. But then another country like Japan holds firework festivals every year during the summer with over 200 hundred shows happening during this period of time. With the advances we have in modern engineering, we’ve even managed to create silent fireworks so everyone can enjoy the display. A town in Italy made the surprising move to only allowing silent fireworks from now on too. 

So, the next time you’re watching a firework display, try and remember its humble origin and think how far they’ve come from such a simple accidental discovery. Over hundreds of years, people perfected and honed the art of fireworks so we can now enjoy the wonderous displays we see now.