Drones vs. Fireworks

Jamie Greaves

Creative Director at The Business Creative

October 27, 2022

As the clocks go back, the nights get dark and the mist and fog rolls in. This time of the year is synonymous with fireworks displays. And whilst I’m not a fan of a small garden display (I was once nearly set on fire by a dodgy Catherine Wheel in a friend’s back garden – but that’s another story) and huddling around a sausage and a sparkler in the cold doesn’t really do it for me either – I do, however, love a big display!

I also know what it takes to put on a big, organised display, having twice directed the Alton Towers displays several years ago. The great thing about these shows was the additional production that these shows were layered with (music, video footage, lasers, lighting, dancing flame effects, etc.). The shows actually looked great without any fireworks, and in fact due to budgets you only got to see the finished show (with the fireworks) nervously, hoping it would all work together on the actual night! 

However, that could all be about to change! Rather than sending money up in flames and getting a one-off bang, drones are replacing fireworks, providing a cleaner, reliable, safer, rehearsal-friendly option

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Drone fireworks are gaining popularity. And Drone displays are becoming a replacement for fireworks, due to concerns about firework-related air pollution and environmental damage.

Concerns about pollution and the environment could see drone fireworks – such as the one featured in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony and more recently in the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations earlier this year – replace fireworks as the light show of choice in the night sky.

Governments in China and India have already tried to limit the number of fireworks set off during celebrations for the Lunar New Year and Diwali to minimise dangerous air pollution.

And even Sydney, famous for its New Year firework display, is considering replacing pyrotechnics with drones to reduce the risk of bushfires, according to reports in Australian media.

One company hoping to capitalise on such a drone fireworks shift is British-based Celestial, which puts on displays flying up to 300 drones in formation and says the technology is developing fast.

I do love the thrill you get from watching a live firework show – the bangs, booms and crackles, the unpredictability, and exclamations from the crowd, however, Celestial’s co-founder John Hopkins recently told Reuters, “Our goal … is to supersede fireworks. We love fireworks but they blow things up, they’re single use, they make things catch on fire and they scare animals. What we’re trying to do is create something, creatively, more interesting, green because we use renewable energy sources, and we don’t scare the animals.” 

Drone fireworks will pick up sooner than you think!

Along with the obvious environmental benefits, there’s a whole array of reasons why drones make the best fireworks alternative, including the fact that they go above and beyond the creative limitations of fireworks.

When it comes down to it, fireworks are creatively outdated. People love the spectacle of a big fireworks display, but it’s also something that people have seen time and again. Meanwhile, drone light shows are fresh and new, and there are infinite possibilities of what can be achieved creatively. It certainly beats a sausage and a sparkler at any time of the year!

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