Mark Harris
10 BEST FIREWORKS - The Independent, 1 November 2004

As chosen by gunpowder expert Mark Harris

Blue Streak £20 each
Category 3. Britain’s Blue Streak missile put satellites into space in the 1960s, and this enormous display rocket can’t be far behind. Check for low-flying aircraft before lighting and retire well back to enjoy the massive starburst and trails. Rumours that Richard Branson is considering a flight of Blue Streaks for his space tourism venture have yet to be confirmed.
Kimbolton (01480 860988;

Starman £5 for 5
Category 2. These back garden rockets are big enough to raise a smile but quiet enough not to wake up the whole street (remember, remember the fifth of November 11pm firework curfew this year). It claims that each pack contains a mixture of effects but, to be honest, they all pretty much did the traditional whizz/bang thing. Good value, though.
The Firework Emporium (0800 316 0406;

Glittering Gems £3.99 --- BEST BUDGET BUY
Category 2. This award-winning fountain offers outstanding value for money. Silver showers of crackling sparks shoot up to 2.5 metres high, with a strobe effect and an impressive crescendo. There are no scary bangs and the whole thing lasts for a good ninety seconds.
Kimbolton (01480 860988;

Lake of Sapphires £35
Category 3. Don’t be fooled by the serene seascape packaging on this roman candle, it’s louder than a foghorn and has bigger teeth than Jaws. Blue-tailed comets bursting into blue stars, crackling blue palms and tiny blue bombs create a classy, colour-themed display from a single ignition fuse.
Kimbolton (01480 860988;

Optimum £70 --- BEST LUXURY BUY
Category 3. A 200-shot monster that combines stars, whistles, strobes and crackles into a breathtaking all-out assault on the senses. The finale of golden rain, white strobe and blue trails should leave your guests ooh-ing and ahh-ing all the way home. Best of all, as it lights with a single taper, there’s actually very little work for you to do.
The Firework Emporium (0800 316 0406;

Sir Tranquil Silent Knight £50
Category 2. If your children love watching firework displays but don’t like the loud bangs, this selection of low noise fireworks should provide plenty of snap and crackle, without the pop. The box includes dozens of smaller fountains, candles, wheels and mini rockets but it isn’t completely silent, so keep pets locked up indoors.
Last Minute (no phone;

Standard Rainbow Red £10
Category 2. Not everyone wants a firework display to rival Mount St. Helens. This selection contains seven fountains, three roman candles and two wheels to create a modest display that’s ideal for the smaller family garden. Standard also have other reasonably priced Category 2 boxes with rockets, mines and more, ranging from £19.99 to £39.99.
Standard (01484 640640;

TNT Super Finale £25 --- BEST BUY
Category 3. This single-ignition barrage was the only one to raise a spontaneous round of applause from our seasoned test audience. Powerful crackles, starbursts and multi-coloured trails are followed by a finale of scintillating, sparkling rain that’s beautiful enough to melt the heart of the toughest Bonfire Night cynic.
Asda (0500 100 055;

Black Cat Golden Eye £20
Category 3. Despite looking like a set of mutant pan pipes, the Golden Eye is actually a high-powered Catherine wheel. Nine jets provide serious firepower so nail it securely to a post to enjoy ninety seconds of titanium sparks, white chrysanthemum, gold flitter, silver stars and a crackling spark finish.
Black Cat (01484 640640;

Golden Sparklers 98p for 20
No matter how well planned your display, there will be quiet spells as you re-light tapers or set up rockets – and that’s when to hand out the sparklers. These ones emit a shower of gentle golden sparks for about two minutes. Sparkler accidents are on the increase, so only give them to kids over five and always dispose of them in a bucket of water.
Asda (0500 100 055;

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