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Fireworks Effects

Here is a list of terms relating to the effects seen or heard in fireworks.
Text is copyright © Bob Weaver. All rights reserved.

  • Atomic - a pattern shell effect of three concentric circles of stars, perpendicular to each other
  • Beehive - a group of “bees” stars which make buzzing sounds in the air
  • Bees - single aerial stars which fly around erratically, or which spin creating a buzzing sound in the air and a visual effect of a swarm of bees, or a type of fountain spark that flies away
  • Bengal fire - color flame in a torch or sparkler
  • Bombette - a star that burns then explodes in the air
  • Bottom shot - the last effect in a cylindrical Italian-style shell, usually a loud salute
  • Bouquet - a floral-shaped break of stars in the air, usually spherical
  • Bowtie shape - a ring of stars in the air with separate breaks of stars on both sides
  • Branching sparks - a fountain effect where sparks split into more sparks
  • Brocade - a break with bright, long-lasting, usually silver trails behind each star
  • Butterfly shape - a shape effect with two cones of stars breaking in opposite directions
  • Buzz - sound created by a bee star or ground spinner
  • Castillo - a tower constructed in Mexico with set pieces and fireworks effects all over it
  • Chrysanthemum - break of stars with trails behind them (as opposed to peony)
  • Coconut - a shell which typically has a comet tail, then a relatively large number of small stars in the break, with each star giving off white sparks (as opposed to palm tree)
  • Comet - the trail of sparks given off by a shell as it flies straight up before breaking, or a type of aerial star
  • Confetti - bits of paper contained within a shell, party popper or confetti cannon
  • Corona - the name in Mexico for a flying spinner (Girandola)
  • Crackle - a sound effect, either aerial or ground, of many small pops in a cluster
  • Crackle flowers - an aerial effect with stars that break open with a crackling sound and a splatter of silver
  • Crossette - a comet star that splits into several comets while burning in the air. If there are several of them they create a cross-hatch effect
  • Cube - a pattern shell that gives the appearance of a cube of stars in the air
  • Dahlia - a break of stars without trails, as in peony, but in dahlia the stars are larger and fewer
  • Diadem - a chrysanthemum or peony break with a center pistil of slow-moving stars of a different color or effect
  • Double ring - a pattern shell with two parallel rings of stars in the air
  • Dragon eggs - another term for crackle effect
  • Falling leaves - a type of aerial effect with long-burning color stars that drift down slowly
  • Farfalle - an effect in Italian fireworks with spinning silver sprays in the air
  • Firefly - a strobe effect with many small flashes of light, either in the comet tail or drifting down after the break
  • Flame drops (or globs) - a ground fountain effect with bright, richly colored, long-lasting sparks
  • Flare - a colored flame
  • Flitter - a type of fountain spray with spreading gold or silver sparks
  • Flying fish - an aerial effect with small color sparks that swirl around or dart away
  • Ghost mine - a ground-level effect of a tall fireball, usually in a distinct color
  • Ghost shell - an aerial break which changes color in a sequence across the shell as it burns in the air. This could be a spherical shell or a spiral pattern shell
  • Girandola - a flying spinner device which lifts from the ground up as it spins and usually gives off a whistle and spark effects
  • Glitter stars - aerial effect with a large cluster of many stars, each of which flashes only once (as opposed to strobe)
  • Glittering tail - a comet tail effect with glitter stars in the tail
  • Go-getters - a type of aerial star which darts off in one random direction once lit
  • Half-and-half - a type of aerial shell, usually spherical, in which one half is one color and the other half a different color
  • Happy face - a pattern shell effect which shows a happy face in the air
  • Heart shape - a pattern shell effect which shows a heart in the air
  • Helicopter - a flying spinner which lifts up from the ground level as it spins
  • Horsetail - an aerial effect of soft gold or silver stars that appear to be poured out and drift down
  • Hummer - an aerial star that spins with a buzzing sound
  • Kamuro - a Japanese shell effect, like a large gold willow break, but with very long lasting sparks that hang in the air
  • Lampare - an aerial effect that produces a small fireball in the air, usually orange
  • Maroon - another name for a salute
  • Mine - an effect of color stars, reports, whistles or crackle, fired out of a tube, which burns from the ground up in an upward blast
  • Mine with shell - a device that produces a mine of effects plus an aerial break above that
  • Multi-break shell - an aerial shell that includes more than one shell in it and produces distinctly separate breaks of stars in the air
  • Niagara Fall - a large curtain of white sparks falling down, suspended from a cable
  • Octopus - a shell effect of usually 8 distinct, separate clusters of stars or sparks that spread out from each other as they burn
  • Palm tree - a shell which typically has a comet tail, then a relatively small number of stars in the break, with each star giving off white sparks (as opposed to coconut)
  • Parachute - an aerial effect with a paper, plastic or fabric parachute ejected from the shell, from which is often suspended an object such as a flag, or an aerial effect such as smoke, flare or spinner
  • Pattern shell - a type of aerial shell which is constructed by carefully gluing color stars in a recognizable shape, such as a ring, heart, letter, number or symbol. When the shell breaks open in the air the stars stay in the positions relative to each other, reproducing that shape in the air
  • Pearls - single color stars fired from the ground up, as in a roman candle
  • Peony - break of stars with no trails behind them (as opposed to chrysanthemum)
  • Pine needle - a type of fountain effect with gold branching sparks
  • Pistil - a secondary effect in the center of an aerial shell break, smaller than the main break and usually in a contrasting color or effect
  • Report - a bang produced by a firecracker or an aerial salute or other explosive effect
  • Ring shell - a pattern shell which produces a circle of color stars in the air
  • Salute - a loud boom effect produced by a large firecracker or explosive device in the air
  • Scrambling comets - an aerial effect similar to tadpole, of stars that dart away or swim away in random directions, with a trail of sparks behind each one
  • Serpents - an aerial effect of a group of silver screaming comets that spiral downward as they burn
  • Senko hanabi - a Japanese sparkler effect in which the molten sparkler composition emits small gold branching sparks
  • Set piece - a type of firework, not effect, in which a picture is created out of many small color flares
  • Shell of shells - an aerial shell that has an initial (nearly unseen) break, which spreads out smaller shells, then each of those breaks open at roughly the same time
  • Shower of sparks - a fountain effect of color sparks sprayed upwards from the tube
  • Sky lantern - a small type of hot-air balloon that is illuminated from inside by a torch
  • Snake - a ground effect given off by a pellet which burns and gives off a long, curving ash
  • Spider - a large aerial break, similar to chrysanthemeum, with long trails of sparks behind each star
  • Spinning comet - an aerial star which gives off silver sparks as it spins in the air
  • Spiral shape - a pattern shell which creates a spiral design of stars in the air
  • Star shape - a pattern shell which creates a star-shaped design of stars in the air
  • Streamers - long paper strips which are ejected from a party popper or confetti cannon, sometimes from an aerial shell
  • Strobe pot - a ground effect of a device which produces a series of very bright flashes, in white or colors
  • Strobe star - an aerial effect of stars in which each star flashes repeatedly in the air (as opposed to glitter stars)
  • Sunflower - a set piece in the shape of a flower, or an aerial shell with an outer ring of stars that give off sparks as they spread
  • Tadpole - an aerial effect similar to scrambling comets, with comet stars that swim away in different directions
  • Tail or Rising Tail - the trail of sparks that a shell leaves behind as it flies straight up out of the mortar. This could be a color flare, a silver or gold tail, a glittering tail (even in color) or a crackling tail
  • Tiger tail - a comet tail effect produced by charcoal, that leaves a long-burning trail of orange sparks behind a shell as it flies up
  • Time rain - a long-lasting aerial effect of long-burning stars which leave a trail with a “sizzling” sound in the air
  • Titanium report - a salute or report that includes titanium shavings in it, to produce a splatter of white sparks in addition to the boom sound
  • Titanium shower - a fountain effect of a continuous shower of white sparks, that has a very light crackling sound to it
  • Tourbillion - an old type of spinning firework, which lifts off the ground and into the air due to the placement of holes in the tube
  • Waterfall - either a ground-based Niagara Falls effect, or an aerial shell with very long-burning stars with silver or gold trails that drift downwards
  • Wave - to me, this is like a chrysanthemum shell but with shorter trails behind each star, and the trails die out sooner
  • Whirlwind - a spinning shower of sparks in the air, from a specialized device included in the shell. The device can give off silver, gold or color sparks, and often has a distinct sound effect
  • Willow - a large, long-burning shell effect typically with dim gold trails of sparks following behind each star and hang in the air, creating a “drooping” shape of gold sparks in the air. Often the front tips of these can have color, such as gold willow with blue tips, etc.
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