The evolution of fireworks: The Drone Show!

I recently went to a drone show in Melbourne, Australia. And what, you may ask, is a drone show?

It was an 8 minute display of 350 flying quadcopters, called drones, choreographed using artificial intelligence to move together in pre-set patterns up in the sky, matched to music and the narration of a story! With lights attached to the drones, they look like brightly coloured stars constantly moving to create pictures! Spectacular!

You may have heard of, or even seen, these little flying machines, used individually in all sorts of ways, from aerial photography to delivering your takeaway coffee from the shop down the road!

Drones also provide information in ways that has never been possible before, such as mapping fire fronts in bushfires, shark spotting over beaches, and reporting on natural disasters such as landslides or floods.

But a new art technology company called Celestial, based in Bath in England, is taking the use of drones to a whole new level, creating wonderful shows up in the sky to tell a story, send a powerful message, or celebrate an event.

This company began in the turbulent times of 2020. Between them, the co-founders, Nick, John and Tony have a unique combination of skills and experience in drone hardware and software, film-making, photography, lighting and large scale event production. They are backed up other technical specialists, all with a passion for innovative storytelling. 1

One of the co-founders, John Hopkins, talks about the company here (1.37 min):

Their website says:

"We bring the stars to life and our wow factor is unprecedented.
Humanity has become accustomed to looking down at screens. Celestial’s pioneering drone art inspires audiences to gaze up, reigniting our relationship with the stars.

We balance people, planet and profit.

"We collaborate with world-class talent, from Poet Laureates and Grammy-winning musicians to Hollywood actors and indigenous artists. We work with brands and charities. With keen thinkers and adventurers. The bold, the brave and committed. Those who want to tell stories that matter, on the world’s biggest stage – the sky. We do all this using renewable energy without starting fires or scaring animals. Drones are the natural successor of fireworks, but far more spectacular. 1

"Our award-winning events have received universal acclaim and produced profound emotional responses from audiences around the world. Celestial is founded on strong ethical values balancing people, planet and profits, and we believe drone art has enormous potential as a force for good in the world".1

Here is one example, the highlights of the Edinburgh New Year (Hogmanay) in 2020 (1.43 min):

Celestial also has a goal of providing humanitarian support. Their website says:

"We also have a Not For Profit initiative that repurposes our proprietary hardware and software for the good of humankind."

"Our drone display system can be deployed in a multitude of humanitarian situations: conflict disaster and quarantine zones."

"Visible from vast distances, our precision digital signage provides real-time information and reassurance to those most in need. Visible from vast distances, our precision digital signage provides real-time information and reassurance to those most in need. Operated by a small, and highly skilled crew, our system is mobile and our signage is fully customisable." 1

"By placing invaluable messaging into impossible places, we aim to bring hope to those who witness our displays whilst imparting crucial, lifesaving information."

Walking towards help. Credit:

If you would like to watch other Celestial drone shows, please click here.


With thanks to

  1. Celestial,