NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO (WIVB) - Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather on both the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls this weekend and next to see spectacular fireworks displays.
The Cascades of Fire international fireworks competition kicks off Friday night at 9 p.m. with a display from a Chinese team on the International Control Dam above the Horseshoe Falls.
"The fireworks are spread out over 1,500 feet and can go up to approximately 1,200 feet in the air. So that's going to be like a wall of fire. It's going to be so exciting," said Tina Myers, the executive director for the Winter Festival of Lights that's ongoing on the Canadian side of the Falls.
By Friday morning, the shells and mortars were already in place for the first shows of the competition that's bringing together some of the best pyrotechnics teams from around the world.
"We start tonight, Friday, with China, and then we have Finland and then Brazil. And next weekend it's Vietnam, Italy and Canada," explained David Whysall, president of David Whysall International Fireworks, Inc. who is overseeing this inaugural competition for Niagara Falls.
Each night, a different team will use at least 17,000 pounds of fireworks to put on an 18 minute show, synchronized to music. You can hear the music for the shows on Star 102.5 on your radio.
Watch the video below for the advice about the best viewing on the American side.
Whysall, who also puts on all of the regular fireworks displays you normally see at Niagara Falls, says the competition shows will blow the usual six or seven minute shows out of the water.
"This is much, much bigger. There really is no comparison," he said.
A panel of judges will grade each display on criteria that includes theme and choice of music, creativity, selection of effects, synchronization to the music, and crowd reaction and appreciation.
The mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, will present the awards on the final night, November 18.
Crews got to work Sunday putting the pieces in place for the first show.
As long as the wind cooperates, the fireworks displays will begin at 9 p.m. on November 9, 10, 11 and November 16, 17, and 18.
Wind over 40 km/h would force organizers to delay a show, either pushing everything back one day or putting two shows on the same night.
You can keep up to date on everything happening with the Cascades of Fire competition and the Winter Festival of Lights by clicking here.