Guy Fawkes strikes again

Tim Stein meets a firestarter extraordinaire

Invite Mik Amabilino to your bonfire party (or any party, in fact) and the champagne corks won't be the only things popping. Imagine a 30ft, firework-propelled helicopter landing in your back garden to the rat-tatting sounds of ack-ack devices and Manfred Mann's Starbird soundtrack, or Indians and cavalry officers in mock battle, firing arrows of light at one another across a lake. Or how about an exploding cake?

A pyrotechnician par excellence, 39-year-old Amabilino is, as far as he knows, the only independent show designer and producer of firework displays in the business, though clearly his slogan - Unique Shows For Unique People - indicates it's considerably more than this. After working as a window dresser in a jewellery shop and as an art and craft technician he became hooked on fireworks when his younger brother wrote a school project about them. "Fireworks are a very memorable form of entertainment," he says. "I try to expand people's expectations of them, to make them see things they haven't seen before."

Of his shows, 99 per cent are choreographed to music, with each one "individually tailored to the client's event". Some may include the integration of lighting effects, lasers, fire drawings (burning ropes of a pictorial nature from pounds 250), or they may take the more gentle form of a scene-setting piece such as a swan lantern (from pounds 500) or a giant effigy of a Hindu god. Some clients have been known to spend as much as pounds 30,000 on a single show. But what a show.

As for the other 1 per cent, Amabilino acts as an agent for companies supplying self-starting display packs, designed for those people "who want to light their own match," as he himself puts it. "Of course," he says, "the kits come with full safety instructions and a professional lighting device - not just a match". Costing upwards of pounds 150 and lasting between 15 and 20 minutes, they might contain an assortment of fireworks (roman candles, Catherine wheels, animated skeletons and so on) and, possibly, a piece of lancework - a metal frame on which you can set up a message in coloured lights.

The most popular choices of wording are, not surprisingly, "Happy birthday" or "Happy Xmas" and they can usually be lit in a matter of minutes. The series of tiny linked flares are fused across the top, so one ignition will light them all. "It's a bit like joining the dots," Amabilino explains.

The mere mention of Christmas triggers a flood of ideas. "I could do you some outdoor lancework - reindeers with sleighs, for instance, or a Father Christmas climbing down a chimney..." A real chimney, I ask? "Yes," he says with a laugh, "but it would depend on the roof, where it was, and the size of the stack and so on. As long as it's safe I'm always open to suggestions."

On the other hand, you could always opt for a frothing silver fountain or an appropriately wintry snow storm - outdoor fire displays of a remarkable kind (from pounds 1,000); a glowing canework lantern in the shape of an angel, a crown or a shepherds crook (2ft lanterns from pounds 55); and then there are those exploding cakes...

For pounds 100 or so, and at approximately six weeks notice, a simple pyrotechnical device placed in the centre of a traditional Christmas cake ("a nice old lady we know makes them") could, with the flick of a switch, send a shower of confetti, miniature flags or streamers around the room leaving the room - and, one trusts, the guests - intact. If you wanted to destroy the cake as well, that can be arranged. "Though I'm assuming," Amabilino says, "that you don't want bits of food splattered about the place."

Self-fire display packs (from pounds 135) include a proper lighting device and full safety instructions, providing a 15 to 20 minute show. If you'd like the pack and someone to operate it for you, it will set you back upwards of pounds 210. Available from 2 November. From 6 November you can commission an operated fire show. You will need to give at least two weeks notice, and can expect to pay anything from pounds 1,000 for a individual display choreographed to music. For more information, call Mik Amabilino Pyro Displays on 0181- 445 9001.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices