Scattering ashes using fireworks can be a special memorial, but you need to work with a professional fireworks company that can help you do it in a way that’s safe and legal.
Why scatter ashes in a fireworks display
It can be a special way to say goodbye
As more and more people look for creative or celebratory ways to scatter their loved ones’ ashes, fireworks displays are becoming more popular.
Firing the ashes up into the night sky in a blaze of sparkle and colour, in the company of your friends and family, can be a special way to say goodbye.
It’s important to use a pyrotechnics company that’s experienced in adding ashes to fireworks and can run a display - like Heavenly Stars Fireworks, Halo FX or Scattering Ashes. They can load the ashes onto the fireworks, design a display and set the fireworks off at your chosen location.
Any company offering memorial fireworks displays must follow UK safety laws and guidelines of the British Pyrotechnists Association - the trade body that represents most professional firework display companies in the UK.
If you prefer to set them off yourself, a company like Heavenly Stars can make and deliver ‘self-fire’ fireworks for you to use.
The main thing to remember if you’re setting off fireworks yourself is that it’s against the law between 11 pm and 7 am. Find out more about fireworks and the law in the UK.
How to arrange a display
You can expect to pay about £1,000 for a 2-3 minute display
That’ll be the most basic option, where you can choose the colours but the display will not have any musical accompaniment.
If you want to choreograph the display to a few songs or pieces of music and add more complex sequences, prices can rise to about £4,000.
Self-fire fireworks do not cost as much - generally between £300 and £900, depending on how many fireworks you have. You may be able to personalise the label on the firework, perhaps adding your loved one’s name and their dates of life.
You might need to send the ashes to whoever is running your display a few days before the event
This is so they have enough time to load them carefully onto the fireworks. Other companies might wait until they’re on-site for the display and then load the ashes on.
While it might be tempting to send the ashes up in rockets - one of the most popular fireworks – due to its loud explosion and shower of sparks, it’s not the best way.
You can only load a small amount of ashes onto a rocket, and you’d need about 50 rockets if you want to scatter all the ashes. Rockets are expensive and do not hold up well in windy conditions.
If you want to use rockets to create a particular effect, Halo FX recommends using six, with other fireworks called mines and cakes scattering the rest.
When and where to do it
You can have a fireworks display as part of a memorial service or as a separate event
It’s entirely up to you. Some people like to have a fireworks memorial display soon after the person’s cremation, but you can have one whenever you like once you have the ashes.
That could be on the person’s next birthday, or on the anniversary of their death - or any other date that’s meaningful to you and the person who’s died.
Get your loved one’s ashes without having a funeral service
We can arrange an unattended cremation, giving you the time and freedom to put your own plans in place. Get an estimated cost
The location has to be spacious enough to be safe
Typically for professional displays, there needs to be at least 30 metres between the fireworks and the audience, and then about 100 metres of clear space (no buildings or people) beyond the fireworks for fall out.
Suitable locations could be:
Football, cricket and rugby grounds
Country hotels with spacious grounds
The fireworks company you’re using can advise on whether your chosen location is suitable, or suggest somewhere that is. An average private garden is unlikely to be big enough.
You’ll also need the consent of the landowner. If you’re not sure who owns the land where you want to hold a display, it can be worth calling the local authority to ask.
It’s against the law to set off fireworks between 11 pm and 7 am
You do not need a licence, but it can be helpful to take reasonable steps to let people know you’re planning a display. Find out more about fireworks and the law in the UK.
Fireworks companies generally advise holding displays as early as possible in the evening once it’s dark enough, as a courtesy to people in the area.
You can scatter ashes anywhere in the UK if you have permission from the landowner
This means that if you own your own home and want to scatter your loved one’s ashes across the lawn or as part of a garden feature, you can do so without needing a permit. If you want to scatter the ashes at sea or over a river, you do not usually need to ask for permission – but it’s important to follow the Environment Agency’s guidance to help protect the local habitat.
Other ways to scatter ashes
If a fireworks display does not feel quite right for you, there are lots of other ways to scatter ashes:
Cast them into the wind: put the ashes into a scattering tube, make sure the wind is blowing away from you, and start scattering
Let the sea wash them away: place them in a shallow hole on the beach when the tide is out, then let the waves carry them out to sea.
Create a garden feature: scatter the ashes over some soil in your garden, then plant a tree or flowering plant