Skyfire to set the Canberra sky alight
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Skyfire to set the Canberra sky alight

Rain or not, Skyfire will go ahead on Saturday night with thousands of fireworks exploding, helicopters buzzing, Timomatic performing and 104.7 banking on winning the hearts and minds of radio listeners.

The first Canberra radio survey for this year is still in full swing and Skyfire is 104.7's trump card, a massive event that is now in its 26th year.

HEAVY ARTILLERY: Fortunato Foti and his crew load up firing platforms for Skyfire over Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday night.

HEAVY ARTILLERY: Fortunato Foti and his crew load up firing platforms for Skyfire over Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday night.Credit:Katherine Griffiths

The 18-minute fireworks show will start on Lake Burley Griffin at 8.30pm on Saturday, with the fireworks digitally choreographed to a soundtrack that is kept secret until the night.

A crowd of more than 100,000 will tune in to 104.7 to hear the soundtrack but Canberra FM Radio general manager Eoghan O'Byrne said Skyfire was less about numbers and more about getting the 104.7 brand front and centre.

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''It's our way to give back to the Canberra community,'' he said.

Canberra FM Radio, the owner of 104.7, covers the costs for the event, with the help of sponsors, with the fireworks accounting for about 70 per cent of the budget.

Fortunato Foti from Foti International Fireworks, back to do his eighth Skyfire, was loading up 11 firing platforms on Thursday that will stretch across 400metres of the central basin on Lake Burley Griffin.

Mr Foti said more than 2000 aerial fireworks and 10,000 shooting comets would be manipulated by three computers. ''There's about 3000 individual cues and about eight kilometres of cabling,'' he said.

''We'll have a crew of 10 people setting it up. There's probably four or five months in the planning.''

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting the chance of evening thunderstorms on Saturday, but only high winds could stop the show.

''The show is actually a hell of a lot more spectacular when there's cloud cover,'' Mr O'Byrne said. ''We know Canberrans are a resilient bunch and they will organise and prepare for the weather - bring a poncho or an umbrella just in case.

''The only thing that could stop the event is gale-force winds and in 26 years that has never happened.''

Eight generations of the Foti family have been involved with fireworks, including the famous Sydney New Year's Eve show. Skyfire had its own charm.

''It's a bit more intimate site where you have people basically all around the fireworks,'' he said. ''And obviously there's a lot of vantage points around Canberra which look down on to the lake. We enjoy coming down each year to do it and trying to do something different.''

It had been a sad start to the year for the Foti family with an employee dying after an explosion at the company's Marulan factory last month.

''Obviously, we're saddened by what's happened and we're waiting until the end of the investigation and we'll do what we need to do,'' Mr Foti said.

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The Skyfire entertainment starts at 4.30pm with dancing kids and a talent show. The Federation Guard displays are at 6.05pm and 6.35pm, the the Navy Squirrel helicopter display at 6.15pm, Snowy Hydro Rescue Helicopter display at 6.30pm, RAAF Hornet jet handling display at 6.55pm and former Canberra singer Timomatic performing at 7.30pm. Home and Away stars Tai Hara and Cassie Howarth will be on stage at 8pm (they are also appearing at Westfield Woden on Friday from 4pm to 5pm).

ACTION buses will run additional services and free chartered buses from Commonwealth Avenue to regular bus terminals.