The Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition kicks off over English Bay Saturday night with the first of three pyrotechnic displays that will take place through the coming week.

Teams from three countries will paint the sky with about two tonnes of explosives each: Team Vietnam goes first; the team from Brazil goes Wednesday, Aug. 1; and Italy finishes the run on Saturday, Aug. 4. Showtime each night is 10 p.m. PT.

Each team takes months to design and days to wire the computer-controlled triggers that will cause mortars to shoot fireworks up from a barge, hundreds of meters above English Bay.

It's first time the Vietnam has put together a team to perform internationally. Team members have been perfecting their craft for the last five years.

"We want to tell all the Canadian people we promise to bring our heart to Canada [Saturday] night," team member Anh Nguyen said through a translator.


Members of Team Vietnam wire up their display Friday. (CBC)

Organizers say crowds can expect to see something a little different from Vietnam, including a firework technology so new to Vancouver that organizers are reluctant to reveal details.

But producer Patrick Brault promised, "at least one new aquatic effect that`s never been seen before."

If you plan on joining the estimated 400,000 people who come out to watch the show you'll have a few viewing options — boat, bleachers, beach blankets, and for some, a West End apartment balcony.

Transit best option

This year you can also go to the new Cactus Club on English Bay, but the best seats in the house aren't cheap. Tickets are $120, including a three-course meal.

Parking is extremely limited, so, as always, fans are advised to leave their cars at home. Road closures around Kits Point start at 6 p.m., and the West End will be shut down to non-local traffic at 7:30 p.m.

TransLink will have extra buses and SkyTrain cars running.

There will also be hundreds of police officers patrolling transit areas and beaches, ready to crack down on public drinking.

"We want to remind people that if you are possessing liquor for illegal purpose, you can find yourself the recipient of a $230 ticket; and if you are a youth, we will be phoning your parents," said Vancouver police spokesman Lindsey Houghton.

With files from the CBC's Maggie Zelaya