'You admire the beauty': The man behind this year's Skyfire display
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'You admire the beauty': The man behind this year's Skyfire display

The man in charge of designing Skyfire – which has been lighting Canberra's night sky with fireworks for more than 30 years – says he will stop doing it the moment he doesn't enjoy it anymore.

But Fortunato Foti, whose family has been in the firework business since 1793, still enjoys putting on a show for 100,000 Canberrans expected to line Lake Burley Griffin and nearby peaks to see the display on Saturday night.

Pyrotechnician Fortunato Foti, pictured, packs mortars on Lake Burley Griffin on Thursday ahead of Saturday night's Skyfire.

Pyrotechnician Fortunato Foti, pictured, packs mortars on Lake Burley Griffin on Thursday ahead of Saturday night's Skyfire.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Mr Foti's team arrived in Canberra on Wednesday night and would spend three days setting up between 15,000 and 20,000 fireworks across 11 barges spread half a kilometre along Lake Burley Griffin's central basin.

"Obviously, we don't want people going, walking away, saying that was same old, same old. So if there's things that we can do different to improve on the previous year that's what we aim to do. Hopefully this year should be no different," Mr Foti said.

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The event has already been months in the making, starting with an 18 minute soundtrack.

"I do the design of the fireworks to the soundtrack, from there the design goes to the factory where they will prepare all the fireworks based on the design, and they get packed into their correct positions and then get brought down here and loaded into the mortars and equipment on site," Mr Foti said.

Is there a simulation of what the design looks like before it all goes off?

"Nah, it's just all in my head really."

Mr Foti said the appeal of fireworks was in their simplicity.

"It's one of those things you don't need a lot of thought going into watching a fireworks display. You go there, you admire the beauty, you listen to the soundtrack if you can, you hear the fireworks, you smell the fireworks, it all becomes one.

"It sort of appeals to the young and the old and for that 18 minutes, people will hopefully be watching the fireworks and feeling a sense of happiness."

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR SKYFIRE

Best places to watch

The fireworks start at 8.30pm but the entertainment will be pumping from Regatta Point from 6pm with Ned and Josh kicking things off on the main stage. There'll be a display from the Federation Guard on Rond Terrace at 6.05pm and 6.35pm.

The Royal Australian Navy Taipan helicopter will put on an aerial display at 6.12pm and then there’s a low flyover by a RAFF C17 at 6.55pm.

Samantha Jade and DJ Wippy Lion will fill a good hour from 7.10pm to 8.23pm before the Federation Guard Guns countdown the start at 8.30pm.

The key is to arrive early to secure your spot.

If the crowds and noise aren't your cup of tea though, there are a couple of other vantage where you can enjoy the show from, including Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain.

The views from the Australian War Memorial and Anzac Parade also promise to be spectacular, as do those from the National Library and even New Acton.

You can listen to the synchronised music either at Regatta Point or through your radio via HIT104.7.

How to get there

BY CAR

If you're driving to Skyfire, be mindful of the road closures.

Parkes Way will be closed westbound between Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Ave on ramp from 6am to 11pm on Saturday.

Parkes Way will also be closed eastbound between Coranderrk Street and Kings Avenue between 2pm and 10pm.

For full details of road closures head to hit1047skyfire.com.au

WHERE TO PARK

Drivers are encouraged to use Transport Canberra's Park & Ride facilities. For a list of locations visit www.transport.act.gov.au

Limited parking will be available at the Russell precinct and off Constitution Avenue including Anzac Park East and West, Reid CIT, Civic Pool and Capital Hill car parks. Parking is also available within the parliamentary zone.

A word of warning though if you're tempted to park in an "unofficial" space - it is an offence to park on footpaths, grassed and landscaped areas and inspectors will be out in force.

BY BUS

Additional Blue Rapid 300 and Red Rapid 200 services will be in service from major bus stations, giving you plenty of time to set up, sit back and relax for the big event! Blue Rapid 300 and Red Rapid 200 services will depart every 15 minutes or better.

Routes 300, will drop event goers at the bus stops at Regatta Point and Albert Hall.

TO GET TO REGATTA POINT AND ALBERT HALL

From Belconnen: Blue Rapid Route 300 - services will depart Cohen Street - Platform 1, Westfield Belconnen - Platform 1 and Belconnen Community Station - Platform 1.

From City: Blue Rapid Route 300 - services will depart City Bus Station - Platform 1.

From Woden: Blue Rapid Route 300 - services will depart Woden Bus Station - Platform 9.

From Tuggeranong: Blue Rapid Route 300 - Services will depart Tuggeranong Bus Station - Platform 8.

From Gungahlin: Gungahlin residents can catch a Red Rapid 200, 956 or 958 from Platform 3 at Gungahlin bus station to the City Bus Station and transfer onto a Blue Rapid 300 to Tuggeranong from Platform 1 to reach Regatta Point or the Albert Hall.

Please note: regular fares apply.

Getting Home

Free return chartered Transport Canberra services to major bus stations including Belconnen, City, Tuggeranong, Woden and Gungahlin.

These services will depart regularly from the bus stops on Commonwealth Avenue outside Albert Hall following the fireworks event.

Free services to the City, Belconnen and Gungahlin will depart from regatta point on the western side of Commonwealth Avenue at Albert Hall.

Free services to Woden and Tuggeranong will depart from regatta point the eastern side of Commonwealth Avenue at Albert Hall.

What to eat

There’ll be a great range of food vendors spread out across several locations.

At the main stage at Regatta Point you’ll find Grease Monkey, Mr Kernel, Nitas Snacks, Top Dog, Thai Urban Restaurant, Thai Juice Bar, Akiba/Kokomos and Mikebabz.

On the Patrick White Lawns look out for Miss Frost Soft Serve, What the Pho, Brain Freeze Machine, BR Streetfoods and Dapto Dogs.

On Queen Elizabeth Terrace there’ll be Jim Neill Ice Cream Cart and Nitas Snacks. On Regatta Point, Barrine Drive, Bush Bread of Australia, Delight Cone and Yia Yias Kitchen, Canberra. On Rond Terraces look out for Classic Soft Serve, Charcoal Parilla, Nitas Snacks and Boss Burger. On Foreshore South Side of the Lake, Peters Ice Cream.

Where to pee

The permanent toilets are at the top of Regatta Point near The Deck. There will be a hired toilet truck near the kids' playground and picnic shelter and opposite the Captain Cook Fountain at the bottom end of Regatta Point. There are also permanent toilets behind the BBQ next to Stage 88.

Family time

The Family Fun Zone is back on at Patrick White Lawns. There will be a free Nerf area for the kids while you’re waiting for the fireworks.

Police officers along with staff of St Johns, ACTAS, SES and Security Guards will be roaming around handing out wristbands. We encourage all parents and guardians to approach ACT Policing upon arrival to Skyfire, collect a wristband and write your name and number on it. Put this on your little ones in case they are lost.

Pets and Skyfire

Provide access to a safe area where your pet may feel more at ease. Animals usually indicate their preferences such as under a bed or inside a wardrobe. Allow it to go where it wants to feel safe. Close bird cages, rabbit hutches and other fixed enclosures and ensure the pet door and windows are closed and locked.

Do not punish your pet for exhibiting his behaviour during times of stress.

Attempt to engage, distract and reassure your pet that everything is okay, but don't "force" this if it becomes particularly distressed.

Make sure that your boundary fences and gates are secure and that your pet cannot readily escape through them or over them if they do get out.

Jasper is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

Karen Hardy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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