MONTREAL — The big bang is on.
Montreal’s most colorful summer fest takes to the night skies beginning Saturday with the 28th edition of the International Fireworks Competition, hosted by La Ronde Amusement Park.
In all, nine thematic pyrotechnic displays — eight from international pyrotechnic companies and a final La Ronde closing show — will take place on a new schedule of various Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer.
Opening the competition Saturday is Aoki Fireworks from Japan. Its theme, “Discover Hanabi,” highlights an ancient millennium-old pyrotechnic-art tradition.
On July 7, Switzerland’s SUGYP fireworks company presents “Aero-Folies,” which pays tribute to the past, present and future of aeronautics.
Home country Canada takes its turn July 14, and the fest switches to a new weekday night — Tuesday — for Greece, which makes its festival debut July 17.
France explores the wondrous world of Jules Verne July 21, with Portugal showcasing traditional Fado music July 24.
Italy offers “The Prophet Tales” July 27, and the United Sates pays tribute to the Disney classic with “Pyro Fantasia” on July 31.
The teams will compete for the coveted Jupiter Award. Chosen by a jury of 12, the top three countries receive a gold, silver or bronze Jupiter Award, respectively. The shows are judged on a number of criteria, including diversity and richness of color, soundtrack, synchronization between music and display, technical design and use of space and concept.
Closing out the festival is the La Ronde-hosted tribute to the music of Queen on Aug. 3.
The fireworks are held at 10 p.m., rain or shine. And this is a pretty good bet — since the competition first began in 1985, it has never been canceled due to bad weather.
Onlookers can listen to the accompanying soundtrack by tuning in to station 105.7 Rhythm FM.
The fireworks can be viewed for free at a number of places in Montreal, including near — or on — the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which is closed to traffic beginning at 8 p.m. on fireworks nights. Your best bet is to ditch the car and take Metro station Papineau and simply follow the crowd. Other suggested vantage points include the Gay Village, the Old Port, Jean Drapeau Park and Longueil on the South Shore.