In the January edition of The Red Bulletin, Vienna-based photographer Florian Rainer shows us his most spectacular photographs from the Feria Nacional de la Pirotecnia, Mexico’s largest fireworks display. Every year in early March, the nation’s top pyrotechnicians do battle in the industrial town of Tultepec. The contest consists of creating towering infernos and firing off rows of rockets to the accompaniment of music. The displays are the centrepiece of a nine-day festival and the partying usually goes on till morning. The next Feria runs from March 5 to 14. So if lying on the beach in Cancún becomes a little boring, get yourself to Tultepec!
1. Getting there
The conservative option: Fly to Mexico City. From Buenavista Station, the last stop on the line, get the train to Cuautitlán. A taxi from the station forecourt will get you to Tultepec in 15 minutes.
Alternatively: Go by bus. Photographer Florian Rainer explains, “In Mexico City, I got into a shared taxi headed north and asked my way from there. At one point I noticed that there were an unusually high number of men getting on the bus with burn injuries (pyrotechnicians and workers from the Tultepec fireworks factories, Ed.). Then I knew I was going the right way.”
The conservative option: The Ibis Perinorte or the Fiesta Inn in Cuautitlán. They are three- or four-star hotels and you can book online.
Alternatively: Hotel Paradiso in Tultepec. “They advertise the fact that they’ve got porn, not WiFi,” says Rainer. “But at least you’re closer to the party.”
3. Eating out
The conservative option: Get into a taxi at 7pm. Eat in the hotel in Cuautitlán. Shovel the food onto your plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet till it’s overflowing.
Alternatively: “Drink litre cans of Mexican beer,” says Rainer. “You can get them on every street corner at the Feria. The same goes for shots of tequila and chicken, barbecued as it should be over shopping trolleys.”
4. Your sightseeing programme
The conservative option: Go and ask at the tourist information desk where you can watch the fireworks from a safe distance.
Alternatively: “Go to the Parade of the Burning Bulls and the Fire Tower competition,” says Rainer. “The Tultepec parading of the bulls lasts from 6pm till four in the morning. The locals push 300 papier-mâché bulls full of fireworks through the streets. For the Fire Tower competition, you need to find your way to a field outside the town. The pyrotechnicians burn to the ground 30m-tall wooden towers which are full of Catherine wheels.”
5. What you need to take with you
The conservative option: A functional jacket. A casual check shirt. A credit card.
Alternatively: “A fireproof jacket, an old jumper made of some highly fire-resistant material and a pair of cheap sunglasses,” says Rainer. “That way you can get closer to the fireworks to take photos. You can throw the clothes away afterwards.”