Festivals end with a bang at Fireworks Concert

Fireworks Concert. Pic: Rob McDougall.
Fireworks Concert. Pic: Rob McDougall.
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LOOK to the skies above the Capital on Sunday for one of the most awe-inspiring highlights of the city’s events diary, the Virgin Money Fireworks.

This year, more than 400,000 fireworks will accompany the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Musorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition. Each will be choreographed to the live orchestral score by Keith Webb of international firework artists Pyrovision.

That’s four tonnes of explosives lighting up the night sky during the 45-minute concert. Not a long time at all really, considering it takes a team of 15 pyrotechnicians seven days to set up the fireworks on no fewer that 17 different levels of the Castle. From the ramparts to the top of Castle rock, no space is neglected.

The highlight of the display for many, however, will be the iconic Waterfall, which sees silver fireworks cascade 131 feet down the Castle rock - coarse aluminium flakes cause the fireworks to descend while fine aluminium flakes gives the display its silvery whiteness.

Conducted by Garry Walker, the Fireworks Concert begins at 9pm and if the music sounds familiar then the chances are you know it from one of these films. It featured in the Coen Brothers’ 2008 movie Burn After Reading, starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Oliver Stone’s 1999 film Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz, and The Big Lebowski, from 1998, with Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi.

It can also be heard on the sound track of the Sony Playstation game Gran Turismo 4 and in 1972 was released as a rock album by Emerson Lake and Palmer.

250,000 people are expected to gather in Princes Street Gardens and at various vantage points around the city to watch Sunday’s spectacle.

Festival director Jonathan Mills says, “The magic of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra continues to make it an unmissable part of the Festival and of life in Edinburgh. We want everyone to join in this spectacular celebration, especially stunning for those who enjoy the event up close from Princes Street Gardens.”

If you fancy seeing the bigger picture, you could always head to Holyrood Park and watch from Arthur’s Seat (bring a torch to ensure you get back down safely) or from Calton Hill, which will give views along Princes Street. Once again, there will be a family viewing area at Inverleith Park, complete with family entertainment and a big screen on which to watch all the action from the Ross Bandstand. Inverleith Park opens at 7pm, entry is free.

For a different perspective, head along to the Point Hotel on Bread Street, where the glass-fronted SkyBar, which boasts spectacular views of the Castle and the city skyline, will be open between 7-11pm for drinks and a BBQ (weather permitting), throughout the display. Call 0131-221 5414 for details.

That said, nothing beats the breathtaking view from Princes Street, with the magnificent backdrop of the Castle. And wherever you are, tune into Forth One 97.3 or Forth 2 1548AM from 8.30pm for a live broadcast of the music.

• Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, Princes Street Gardens, Sunday, 9pm