The Battle of the Fireworks

Heather Tucker, dinsdag 10 september 2013

To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is to be dead.

That string of words, a motto from the high school colorguard team that I used to be part of, was ringing in my ears as my head twisted back and forth along the tram tracks.

Already the tram platform was filling up with families, couples and groups of friends. The question was, were there currently more people surrounding me then would fit on the tram, whenever it decided to arrive?
Across the road a handful of individuals had splintered off from the main group and were making their way towards the coast at a fairly fast pace. I glanced at my watch; I would have just enough time to make it to the water if I set off now and with no tram in sight, that’s what I decided to do.

I was heading to the International Fireworks Festival in Scheveningen. This annual event take place over four nights, spread across two weekends and results in eight fireworks shows (two per evening). Each display is organised by a different country (this year (2013): Belgium, Germany, Austria, China, Spain, Korea, Japan and the Netherlands). Visitors to the fireworks display have the opportunity to vote for their favourite, the results of which make up 50% of the total result. The other 50% is made from the jury, together resulting in an overall winner.

The tram passed me on the right during my walk, full to bursting with passengers. So much so that it didn’t even bother to stop at the next tram stop – a welcome confirmation that the choice to walk had been the correct one. I had been worried about getting lost along the way but there were plenty of people heading all the same way and soon enough I was within tasting distance of the sea.

The fireworks display is known to bring in crowds of around 150,000 and while it didn’t feel like there were that many, there were definitely people in every direction you looked. Some brave souls had even ventured out onto the sand, despite the wind.

The time crept closer to the start of the first show, this one from Austria. I waited for an announcement, some music or even a cheer from the crowd but all that happened was the fireworks started. They lasted around ten minutes and were, to be honest, nothing special. Judging by the comments around me, I wasn’t the only person disappointed.

Since it was so windy I headed back to the hotel to watch the second show from the balcony. I’ve seen photos that friends took on other less windy nights and these displays seemed much nicer than what I experienced. And I would have loved to seen the display of the overall winner of the festival...the Netherlands of course.