Startled Aucklanders can rest assured the barrage of explosions that rang out over the CBD tonight were fireworks.

The fireworks display about 6.30pm was part of the Renault French Festival being held at Queens Wharf over four days from July 11 to 14 and was in celebration of Bastille Day.

A string of mildly alarmed comments on social media questioned what the sustained loud thumping was on a seemingly nondescript July evening.

"Why does it sound like Auckland (Newmarket/Remuera) is under siege? Fireworks?" one person commented on Twitter .

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Another exclaimed: "There's fireworks in Auckland Harbour. What's going on?"

Another Twitter user questioned why the fireworks event had not been promoted.

"I so very much want an Auckland Twitter bot that announces and explains large fireworks displays, but there's simply no authoritative source. It's amazing how often there are big displays that seem entirely unpromoted."

It was not all alarm and confusion though.

"Awesome #auckland #fireworks to celebrate my son's 8th birthday. Judd says 'Thank you Auckland'," one parent commented online.

One person added: "Great fireworks over Auckland!"

The fireworks display for the festival had been scheduled for July 12, but was postponed due to last night's rain.

Now in its third year, the Renault French Festival is a family oriented event with a culinary focus.

"Everything that makes France famous around the world will be on show: raclette, onion soup, galettes, snails, boeuf bourguignon, cheeses, oysters, macarons, croissants, pains au chocolat, crêpes, pâtisseries ... but also French drinks like wines, beers and soft drinks," the festival description states on the Auckland Council website.

Bands from France and New Caledonia have also been playing across the four days, as well as a French movie theatre, wine masterclasses, and a French Pop-Up Bistro supervised by Marc de Passorio - the only one-starred Michelin chef in Auckland.

The actual Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14 and commemorates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on that day in 1789, a turning point of the French Revolution.