For three decades, Montreal’s citizenry have been subjected to rolling explosions, fiery night-sky flashes and the lingering smell of gunpowder throughout the summer months, though the only battle being waged is between the many pyrotechnics companies representing various countries at the annual L’International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks competition…
The world-class event, which this year celebrates 30 years of eye- and ear-popping entertainment, annually attracts some 3 million fans of loud sparkly things to seven performances over five weeks. From June 28 to Aug. 2, L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (originally known as the Montreal International Fireworks Competition when it was launched in 1985) will again demonstrate why it’s considered the most prestigious of its kind worldwide.
Taking place at Quebec’s largest amusement park, La Ronde (which was created for Expo 67 and which is now part of the Six Flags family), the pyromusical performances – each of the displays is synchronized to a specially selected musical score – can be viewed up close and crazy with ticketed admission. Conversely, they can be viewed at a slight remove for free from the river shores on either side of La Ronde, or even – as is the choice for many tens of thousands of observers – from the vertiginous heights of Montreal’s St-Lawrence River–spanning Jacques-Cartier bridge, which overlooks La Ronde and is closed to traffic for each performance.
On June 28, Germany will open this year’s competition with a dreamcatcher-themed presentation with a special soundtrack composed for the occasion. Italy follows on July 5 with a cosmic journey from the Big Bang to the emergence of life on Earth, then Spain on July 12 with a show that demonstrates the poetic power of fireworks. On July 16, Canada represents with “Reveries,” celebrating adventure and imagination, then on July 19 the United States steps up with “Fright Night!” featuring a Halloween theme.
France will make its presence felt with a tribute to the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela on July 23 titled “Freedom,” while Australia will showcase a display inspired by the theatricality, glitter and colour of the work of Australian film director Baz Luhrmann. The competition wraps up with a tribute to legendary rock band Pink Floyd, a display that will doubtless leave all takers comfortably numb.
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, June 28 to August 2, 2014
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Photo credits : Stephan Poulin and Robert Burch