Important Note

Any suppliers listed here are included as those who have been able to supply a satisfactory service in the past. They are listed only as a guide, and this list is not exhaustive

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Circuses in Colchester are subject to specific rules, and are dealt with exclusively by the Parks and Recretion team at the Colchester Borough Council.


Funfairs are a great addition to any event, from a single roundabout to a full scale mobile theme park. However we stongly reccommend that you make sure that the operator is a member of the Showmans Guild. That way you can ensure that they are properly inspected, maintained and respectable.

You have to allow at least a full day setup and takedown in addition to the opening times.

We have used Charles Drakey's Old Time Funfairs, who have a very Edwardian-looking fairground, which can operate silently, but there are plenty of others who can be found through the Showmans Guild.

If you want a single ride or a very small fair for filming or a wedding, corporate party or launch, then expect to pay a high hire fee. However if you want a whole fair for several days, say at a festival, then it is more normal for them to charge the customers for rides and pay you a percentage of moneys taken.They generally require a site for their trailers and a source of clean water.

Inflatable Structures

Although popular, inflatable units (such as bouncy castles) can be extremely dangerous if operated incorrectly.
Therefore, all inflatable units must be operated in accordance with the HSE Entertainment Sheet No. 7 ‘Safety in the Use and Operation of Play Inflatables, including Bouncy Castles’. Any inflatable used on Council land has to be tested under the PIPA or ADIPS schemes. For more information contact the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Should you wish to include an inflatable structure as part of your event, your risk assessment must indicate adequate control methods to facilitate the safe operation of the equipment. It is recommended that event organisers employ a professional supplier to install inflatableequipment. The organiser will be responsible for
the operation and risk assessment of inflatables
in connection with their event.

Important! Crowds should never be allowed inside a fully enclosed inflatable structure, such as one with an integral floor. There have been instances of such structures breaking their moorings and causing death to those inside at the time. Inflatable domes and temporary buildings which have no floor should be safe, but always take advice from the suppliers.



No one who is not a licenced and experienced pyrotechnician should rig and fire fireworks. Always use a professional experienced company, and make sure you discuss what you are going to get, the length, type and style of the performance, whether they intend to perform their display timed to music. Establish who will supply the music, and the system for playing it.

N.B. If you use music, you will need a PRS licence

The cost of a display will vary according to the length and spectacle required. Ask them to explain exactly what you will be getting and tell them how you want it presented. For example the vexed question of bangs. Do you want them or is to be all pretties? How much aerial work in proportion to relatively low effects. Are there any fire sculptures or lancework?

Different firework types are given here. Please note that this is for interest and guidance only and as an aid to specifying a show.

The shell is a sphere or cylinder of papier mache or plastic which contains stars and a bursting charge, together with a fuse. It is fired into the air from a tube using a lift charge, usually black powder. The time the fuse takes determines the height above the ground at which the shell will burst, igniting and spreading the stars.

Like a shell the mine is fired from a mortar, but emits directly from the tube. The lift charge sends up a bag full of stars and a bursting charge, with a short fuse set to spread the starsrelatively close to the ground. Because the bag has much lessstrength than a shell, the stars are not spread as far, and the final effect is that of a shower of stars moving upward in an inverted cone formation.

Often called just 'candles’ these burn gently for a             while, periodically shooting out stars, comets or similar effects. Candles will vary in size, giving bigger effects as the size increases, or will be grouped in multiples in cakes or batteries giving a faster rate of firing.

Cakes are a relative newcomer to the fireworks scene. Originally the expression 'cake' was a nickname due to the fireworks appearance but it has now become established. The cake is now a mainstay of most displays large and small. It is essentially an assembly of tubes, usually single-shot Roman Candles, fused together to fire in rapid sequence. A quick-fire sequence of effects is fired into the air all from a single fuse

These are pyrotechnic sprays, often referred to as             fountains or flower- pots. They consist of a tube full of composition, sealed at one end and with a nozzle at   the other, similar to a rocket. Unlike a rocket, they are not designed to move anywhere, so all the emphasis is on making the nozzle exhaust as long as pretty as possible, with large amounts of sparks, nice colours etc.
The sparks are produced by metal powders or coarse charcoal in the Gerb composition, with coarse titanium powder being thechemical of choice. Gerb compositions in a thin tube set up in a spiral arrangement are used as wheel drivers, for spinning fireworks e.g. Catherine wheels

A firework which produces a single loud report, often used to announce the start or end of a display. An aerial maroon is a shell, and a signal maroon in a rocket.


These are similar to gerbs, but usually do not spray as far. They are usually mounted horizontally in banks of several tubes, placed some distance above the ground. When ignited, the effect is like a brilliant waterfall of sparks.


Specialist material for use indoors (stage) and outdoor and arena. They are usually cold burn, nil or low fallout. They can be bought and operated without a licence sunject to safe use. Always use the officia and approved firing systems and methods, which have safety interlocks built in to prevent misuse.

A Guidance note is issued by the Health and Safety Executive, Working Together on Firework Displays - A Guide to Safety for Firework Display Organisers (ISBN 0-7176-0835-2, HS(G) 123), and Giving Your Own Firework Display - How to Run it Safely (ISBN 0-7176-0836-0, HS(G)124

Fireworks insurance

Insurance can be very expensive. Only a few providers, most UK companies insured with Oval (they used to be called Torribles)

BECTU and other trade bodies also provide individuals insurance

Companies include

Walk the Plank: - spectacular and original, highly reccommended

London Firework Company - artistic and spectacular

Colchester-based Dynamic Fireworks -they do excellen displays

Stage Pytotechnics: Thebest suppliers are LeMaitre. They have a vey good Safety Information page on their site