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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ruskell

2023 Cannes International Fireworks Competition

The special Gold Vestal competition year, the 2023 Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique is not to be missed as the previous winners compete for the ultimate Fireworks trophy!

Festival d'Art Pyrotechnique © Palais des Festivals

This year is the special year of the Golden Vestal, the coveted award for pyrotechnic artists around the world. Instead of the usual flux of entries for the competition, every fourth year is a run-off between the previous three years' winners. Granting the winners bragging rights for almost half a decade!

For 56 years, the Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique de Cannes has been dazzling spectators with stunning fireworks shows. We’ve been attending almost all of them for a few years now and there really isn’t anything else like it. Not every performance is a knock-out, best-ever but each year there are a few that leave you feeling amazed, entertained and in awe when it’s over. It’s also a joy to see the amazement and joy on the faces of children in the crowd, wowed by a sight so spectacular they barely believe their eyes.

The festival began in 1967 when the Ruggieri company and the City of Cannes developed the idea of an international competition between the most famous fireworks makers of the time. Since then, countries from all continents have participated, from Azerbaijan to Japan, and Argentina to Finland.

Set to a theme and in-sync with music, the latest and greatest fireworks of all shapes, sizes, colours and sounds are launched from barges in the sea, just off the shore of the Croisette. The best views, if you enjoy being right underneath them so they’re larger than life above your head and you can feel every boom, watch from the Croisette, either along the road (closed to traffic for the event), or make the even more magical by renting lounge beds at any of the many beach-front restaurants. This runs anywhere from €35 - €60 and includes a glass of bubbly. But no matter where you are in Cannes, from Palm Beach to the Suquet, you will surely have a fabulous view.

2023 Schedule

This year’s competing countries are the winners from the last three years, Norway, USA, France, Austria, and Switzerland. The Festival kicks-off on 14 July, Bastille Day, with a fun show put on by Norway, last year's winner of the Special Jury Prize.

Winning trophies

Each year, numerous countries submit their program according to a given theme. After a meticulous scrutiny, a final rigorous selection is made among the numerous applications in order to choose five competitors who will compete for the following:

Vestale d’argent (The Silver Vestale) - A Jury, made up of 5 to 7 people, appreciates, in addition to the originality of the chosen theme and the pieces presented, the staging itself, the quality of the musical illustration, the synchronisation, the research into colours, the rate of fire and the general rhythm, and finally the general artistic impression: the scenes, the pyrotechnic design, and respect of the chosen theme.

Prix du Jury (The Jury Prize) - The Jury Prize is awarded to the fireworks specialist who has distinguished themselves by their originality and artisitic display.

Prix du Publique (People’s Choice) - The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes offers the possibility to the spectators of the Festival d'Art Pyrotechnique to participate in the People’s Choice Prize. Everyone can give a score to the fireworks in competition.

To participate in the Public Prize, you just have to evaluate the firm in competition by clicking on the stars in the "vote tab" of the country of choice and then fill in the registration form. All entries must be received by 24 August 2022 at 23:59.

La Vestale d'Or (The Gold Vestal) - Every four years, the pyrotechnicians who have won a Silver Vestal or Jury Prize compete for the Vestale d'Or. These trophies are highly regarded and internationally recognised as the award par excellence in the pyrotechnic art industry.

2023 is the year that these firms compete for the coveted Golden Vestal, pitting the last three year's winning firms against each other in a top competition that is unique in the world. The last winners were companies from Norway, the USA, France, Austria and Switzerland. Any bets who will be the big winners this year?

All photos © Palais des Festivals

Tips to avoid gridlock

As magical as the Fireworks nights are, the city becomes absolutely grid-locked with traffic from around 9 pm until after midnight. To avoid this, try to come by train, easily accessible by most towns in the Riviera.

If you must drive, make sure to arrive in Cannes much earlier so you can still get around easily and find parking in the garages. Note that all the Cannes parking structures are full by half-past eight.

Another alternative is driving to a nearby town and taking the train in. Both Biot and Villeneuve-Loubet rail stations have ample free parking nearby. Just make sure to watch the train times back!

Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique de Cannes

14 July - 24 August

In the Bay of Cannes

Fireworks start at 10 pm and last 30 minutes.

For more details and to vote for your favourite, visit the website:





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