Edinburgh fireworks: Spectacular end to Festival

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MORE than 250,000 people across the Capital and beyond, looked skyward last night as 400,000 fireworks exploded over the city, bringing the curtain down on this year’s International Festival.

Even the strong winds couldn’t stop the annual Fireworks Concert, sponsored for a third year by Virgin Money.

The fireworks are the highlight of the festival for many. Picture: Jane Barlow

The fireworks are the highlight of the festival for many. Picture: Jane Barlow

And though the very same winds meant that The Mound had to be closed to spectators, and had conductor Garry Walker chasing his sheet music on at least one occasion, when the final volley of fireworks illuminated the night sky, the 14,000 spectators in Princes Street Gardens were on their feet applauding.

In the previous 45 minutes, Keith Webb and his team from Pyrovision had battled the elements as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra provided a rousing soundtrack comprising of Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians from the comic opera The Bartered Bride, followed by Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

The action wasn’t all in the sky either. Bathed in green, as fountains of burning silver erupted from it’s battlements, the Castle took its rightful place as star of the show, morphing from colour to colour - at one point turning blood red, a poignant reminder of its fiery medieval past, at another, flickering ghostlike due to the effects of a bank of strobe lights.

That said, much of the time all necks were indeed craned as the display ebbed and flowed in perfect unison with the music. Elegant, balletic and regal one moment, bombastic, unforgiving and enthralling the next, it built to a spectacular climax.

Along the way, not one but two waterfalls, the iconic feature that has become a signature of the event, drew gasps from the crowd. The first saw a cascade of silver sparks bouncing 130ft down the castle rock, the second, just before the end of the concert, created a similar effect from higher levels of the castle.

As spontaneous applause greeted the final note of the evening, the drama was not yet over as small gorse fires continued to burn on the castle rock.

Spectacular, awe-inspiring, with just a hint of danger, the fireworks concert is still, arguably, the highlight of Edinburgh’s festivals season.