Colourful skies of fireworks and New Year is a long tradition dating back centuries, and one cannot deny the spectacle it creates. In addition, fireworks viewing is one of the rare events that gathers people from all walks of life together into a few minutes of collective celebration. But do you know…….


Picture: Timo J. Hokkanen, NK Biosphere Reserve.

Picture: Timo J. Hokkanen, NK Biosphere Reserve.

...the other side of fireworks?

While fireworks race up the air against each other to finally pop-up and fill our eyes with their beautiful shapes, colours, and sizes, metal particulates, dangerous toxins and smoke are at the same time released in the air, after which they scatter across the destinations to the ground, into the water, name it. This “BEAUTY WASTE”, never decomposes or disintegrate; poisoning whatever it comes into contact with. In addition, “the bigger, the better” noise that forms part of the fireworks, has recently become a heated discussion in social media, media, discussion forums, among others.

In some countries, for example here in Finland, a citizens’ initiative to stop the custom has been initiated. Every end the year the repetition of “New Year new things” meaning new ways of thinking, and better ways of doing things is vowed by many; however, fireworks remain. It is understandable that customs spanning generations can be difficult to change, but can celebrations still be done beautiful but in a different form


NO other way to celebrate?

There are many ways to celebrate, and new ways of thinking and doing things are needed. In Sustainable Heritage Areas; North Karelia Biosphere Reserve in this case, we are finding new ways of doing things that still create a win-win situation for both celebrations and the destination. I guess many already know if not the name, the actions of the light artist Kari Kola from North Karelia.

Kari Kola (a sustainability partner of the North Karelia Biosphere Reserve) uses light to tell stories and bring attention to important pieces of history and issues of the future. Kari is currently planning a light show in Greenland to attract attention to the climate change impacts on the glaciers. So in the near future, could light art firework event be a win-win event in vulnerable areas close to national parks for example? Could it replace fireworks for those seeking substitute to noise and toxic pollution from fireworks? Could the history of fireworks still be told through light art? Something to think about while we start this year!



SHAPE is a three-year Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) project promoting the development of ecotourism initiatives. SHAPE focuses on a transnational set of sustainable heritage areas (SHAs) with diverse experiences of sustainability and regional cooperation involving stakeholders in heritage management, tourism, and governance. In these SHAs, the partners work with local stakeholders, their organizations, and the institutions which support them, and incorporate their activities into regional strategies for sustainable nature and culture tourism.


Some reads:

Link to Kari Kola Works:

Fireworks and vulnerable places:

Fireworks safety: