Five great fire festivals around the world

31st Oct 2018
Burning Man

Firework night is nearly upon us and to celebrate, we thought we would take a look at some of the best fire festivals celebrated annually around the world. If you love seeing the sky lit up with colourful displays along with huge effigies and you’re thinking about embarking on a yacht charter for your next holiday, why not book your trip to coincide with one of these fascinating events.

Rouketopolemos, – Greece – Easter

Sail the islands of Greece over Easter and you’ll be in for a right treat! Rouketopolemos, or ‘rocket war’ is an event held every Easter on the Greek island of Chios between two parish churches in the town of Vrontado. The event is literally as it says it is, a rocket war between two local town parishes, Panagia Ereithiani and Agios Markos, and is the islands’ way of celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Each parish makes thousands of their own rockets, closing with a gigantic firework display, where they each fire the rockets towards a central target – the bell on the opposing church. The display begins around lunchtime, and, in 2015, over 150,000 rockets were fired between the two competitors during the afternoon and evening! The event was sadly cancelled in 2016 due to local concerns about the effect the occasion has on the local surroundings. However, due to the amount of tourist revenue it brings in, was reintroduced in 2017 but only around 10,000 rockets were launched, apparently ‘disappointing’ some!

Fiesta del Fuego – Cuba – July

The Fiesta del Fuego, or the Festival of Fire, takes place in Santiago de Cuba on the south coast of Cuba every July and is sometimes referred to as the Festival of the Caribbean. First celebrated in 1981, the festival is a celebration of all things artistic. Around 200 or so artists and scholars from 18 Caribbean countries descend on Santiago de Cuba to exchange cultural habits and take part in colourful parades, musical performances, dance and song.

By far the most anticipated event during the festival is the fire parade, which takes place on the final evening. The parade is started by saluting Nzambi Congo, the highest being in the Palo religion, which was created by African slaves who were brought to Cuba. it then finishes with the burning of a giant effigy of the Devil, or ‘Diabo’. The event is accompanied by the most breathtaking collection of drums, raging in the background behind the event, making it a carnival you don’t want to miss.

Heiva – Tahiti – July

Head to Tahiti on a bareboat sailing holiday for an iconic, colourful festival celebrating the ancient cultures of the French Polynesians. “Hei” meaning “assemble” and “Va” meaning “community”, the festival is a month long competitive event which brings all of the local communities together to celebrate Tahitian heritage. Turn the clocks back to the early 1800’s, where European protestant missionaries, after striking a deal with the king, started to enforce their beliefs and stop the Tahitians from undertaking their cultural norms, forbidding the use of dance, song and costume making. When the French arrived in the late 19th Century, these rules were overturned for one day only, Bastille Day, where Tahitians were allowed to celebrate through dance, song and sports. This was the start of what is now a 30-day long event.

The start of the festival is marked with an impressive fire marching ceremony in Papeete and is considered by many as being the most spectacular of the event’s shows. An earth oven, or uma, is created using salt rocks gathered from the local beaches which crack under too much pressure. Once this is ready, brave individuals from the island volunteer to follow the Great Priest over the oven by foot. The event attracts locals and tourists alike and, as expected, those that succeed in following the priest are held in great esteem. Other smaller events at selected sites around the islands, mainly near to ancient temples, also commence on the same day and mark what is considered to be the greatest festival in the southern hemisphere.

Burning Man Festival–  USA – 25 August – 2 September

If you’re thinking of sailing La Paz on the north west coast of Mexico, why not combine your holiday with a trip north to the Nevada desert. The Burning Man festival takes place every year at the end of August in a temporary city built in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada and attracts thousands of people from around the globe. The festival itself is an artistic event and is built upon ten key principles: self-reliance, self-expression, radical inclusion, participation, community cooperation, gifting, civic responsibility, immediacy, decommodification and leave no trace. The last focuses on the conservation of the area the event is held in.

The event takes its name from its culmination – the burning of a massive wooden ‘man’! During this time, live music is played and festival goers, predominantly those travelling the US, are often seen partying, enjoying the community spirit and, above all else, celebrating different cultures and all things artistic.

Guy Fawkes Night – England – 5 November

You don’t have to go far to enjoy a traditional fire festival…’Remember, remember the fifth of November…’! Guy Fawkes night falls on fifth November every year and celebrates the unsuccessful attempt to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament in London. Following the event, Londoners lit bonfires around the capital to celebrate the failed attempt on the Kings life and thus ‘Bonfire Night’ was born in the UK.

In recent years, attention has moved away from burning a giant effigy of Guy Fawkes and moved towards the burning of other notorious famous figures. In the southern village of Edenbridge, around an hour’s drive from our base in Hamble, recent figures include Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein.

Find out more

Together with the above destinations, we have +50 bases around the world, including newcomers Pula in Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey, giving you more destination choice than any other company. Learn more about our fleet, get a quick quote, tell us your needs at or talk to us at 02380 455527.