What is a drone light show and how do they work?

Last updated on Friday 22 March 2024

A drone light show is a performance in which hundreds of illuminated drones are flown in unison to produce specific patterns in the sky.

Thanks to continuous improvements in drone technology almost any image can be recreated in the sky using a system that turns graphics on a computer into flight commands for the drones.

Drone light shows have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly as a quieter and more environmentally friendly alternative to fireworks.

But how do they work? We thought we’d give an insight ahead of our 2024 Evolution shows

How does a drone light show work?

In theory, drones can be used to create any design – although more intricate designs take a lot of consideration, and a lot of drones!

Before drones can take flight and dazzle in the night sky, the show must be created! To do this, choreographers use sophisticated 3D animation tools and software to create a visual storyboard of each part of a show.

This software allows flight teams to map out each formation of drones, and to establish the best flight path for each drone. Following this initial programming, the drone show is tested in a simulation before a full test flight takes place.

During a drone show, each of the drones used has a specific set of instructions given to it which ensures each drone follows a predefined flight path, altitude, speed, altitude, and synchronization with other drones. Which are all essential for making sure that the drones get to where they need to be to make each stunning formation.

Depending on how many drones are used, shapes in a drone show can range from simple shapes such as circles and squares to more intricate patterns, logos and designs. To complete the show, drones used in a drone light show are equipped with LED lights that can change color and brightness, adding a mesmerising visual element to the show.

Drone technology is only just beginning – and we expect drone shows to get even more awe inspiring as the technology and software develops. 

How much does a drone light show cost?

It may be surprising to hear, but a drone show can cost anywhere from £150,000 to over £1,000,000 depending on the number of drones being used and how complex the design of the drone show is.

This is because the drones, the technology and the level of expertise required by the drone teams all factor into the costs of a drone light show.  

turtle drone formation

Are drone light shows really better for the environment than fireworks?

Not only do drones offer significant environmental advantages over fireworks, but they are also quieter than fireworks which means they are kinder to pets and wildlife.

Although drone shows do have music and sound effects, they are often better for people who have sensory sensitivities as this sound is more controlled than the sudden bang of fireworks.

Another environmental benefit of drones is that they are reusable and don’t produce noise pollution or chemical pollution.

In short, with drones you get all the benefits of a stunning visual experience without harming the environment!  

Want to find out what a drone show is really like? Why not come along to Evolution, the drone light show, and see for yourself. 

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