License article

Fireworks maestro promises surprising Brisbane NYE

He’s the maker of magic, the conductor of colour and the purveyor of pyrotechnics – and he’s in charge of lighting up Brisbane this New Year’s Eve.

Max Brunner, the director of Skylighter Fireworks, the family run company responsible for firing up the city’s family friendly South Bank celebrations for the past four years, says the first moments of 2013 should take your breath away.

“We’ve been working on a few surprises,” he said.

“All I can say is that this year will be the biggest display a Brisbane New Year’s Eve has ever had.”

Organised by the South Bank Corporation, the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations differ from Riverfire, another Brisbane firework’s event, by just focussing on the promenade surrounding South Bank.

Two 10-minute displays [8.30pm and midnight] will see 5000 kilograms of fireworks, made up of more than 10,000 individual pyrotechnic effects launched into the sky, complemented by an integrated laser light show, all set to music.


This year, for the first time, lasers have been set on the north bank of the river and aquatic pyrotechnics, fireworks which launch barges into river before rising up and exploding, will play a major role.

“I’ve come since I was a boy to watch fireworks at South Bank and I have really enjoyed watching fireworks since I was very young, so it is a great honour to have the opportunity to put together and design a display for the people of Brisbane," said Mr Brunner, a former engineer.

A core team of 12 will bring the magic to the capital, but across the state Skylighter Fireworks will fire off displays from the New South Wales border to the Whitsundays.

It’s a lot of work for 20 minutes of flash and smoke – planning began in July and included a week in a sound studio, months of workshop work and four days of setting up.

Mr Brunner says he still carries the memories of seeing firework displays as a child and works each year to recreate those feelings in others.

“I’m a bit like a conductor of a symphony orchestra: My job is to conduct the fireworks and try and make it as interesting and as creative and as spectacular a display as I can," he said. 

"It can be stressful and obviously, you are working during the summer and an environment when many people are holidaying, but the satisfaction that comes from seeing that great response when the finale bursts into the sky.

It reminds our whole team why we do it. We love fireworks and if we delight people in the process, all the better.”

Best position for Brisbane fireworks

Anywhere along the Clem Jones Promenade at the South Bank Parklands, which stretches from the cultural forecourt to the new precinct.

It is highly recommended that people stake out their position as early as possible, with thousands expected to converge on the Parklands for the planned New Year’s Eve celebrations and events.


Brisbane City Council have advised that CityCat and CityFerry services will be extended after the midnight celebrations, operating until 3am on January 1. However many terminals will be closed between 8.20 – 8.45pm and 11.50pm – 12.15am because of the displays. Check with BCC for more information.

Many roads and bridges across the CBD and surrounds will be closed from the early afternoon of December 31, 2012 to the early hours of January 1, 2013 because of the celebrations – check Council and traffic websites for more information.

The Go Between Bridge will be free during these hours to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion.

All travel on TransLink services will be free of charge from 9pm on New Year's Eve (December 31) until 5.30am on New Year's Day (excludes Airtrain services). Most services will be running a normal weekday timetable.