Drone light shows provide eco-friendly Chinese New Year celebrations across the globe

Three separate drone light shows display a red dragon, a blue mountain, and a green dragon

With Lunar New Year approaching on February 10 this year, events and gatherings around the world will celebrate the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar.

While the holiday has long been known as ‘Chinese New Year,’ and it is a significant holiday in China, the Lunar New Year is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and other countries with a large population of Chinese residents.

Many traditions contribute to the celebration, which actually takes place over 15 days, with the final Lantern Festival celebrated most widely. These include sharing wishes and good fortune with family and loved ones, eating tang yuan, observing the Chinese zodiac, and enjoying fireworks shows.

But just like other traditions that include fireworks, like Diwali and Independence Day, folks who celebrate Lunar New Year are reconsidering their celebrations to avoid the toxic chemicals and air pollution that come with fireworks displays.

The solution? Drone light shows.

“Unlike fireworks, which are renowned for their environmental impact, drone light shows, where hundreds of drones with LED lights display an animated story in the night sky, provide a sustainable alternative,” Tony Martin, the co-founder of a drone light show company, Celestial, told Good Good Good.

A drone light show creates a blue spiral in the sky
Photo courtesy of Celestial

While drone light shows aren’t a brand-new invention — one such show was a major component of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics — the industry is growing exponentially. According to projections from the Business Research Insights, the global drone light show industry is expected to grow 25% by 2031. 

“As we see an increasingly hybrid approach, where drone lights appear alongside fireworks, we’re pioneering drone light shows as a form of entertainment exclusively,” Martin continued. “Our hope is that in the future, many traditional occasions, like Lunar New Year, will adopt this new way to celebrate and entertain.”

That hope is already becoming a reality.

In January, Hennessy hosted a 1,500-drone show in Singapore’s Marina Bay to celebrate the Chinese New Year season, illustrating a vibrant dragon in the night sky.

“Embracing innovation and opulence, we departed from traditional lantern-lit celebrations to orchestrate a groundbreaking drone show that not only redefined the festive skyline, but also paid homage to the Year of the Dragon,” Patrick Madendjian, the managing director for Moët Hennessy Diageo Singapore and Malaysia, told August Man.

Similarly, the city of Hanoi is planning to set a Southeast Asian record with its music and drone light show on February 9, featuring 2,024 drones at My Dinh National Stadium. 

And across the pond in America, Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park is hosting its own Lunar New Year festival, complete with a hybrid drone show and fireworks event for three weekends in February.

A man helps set up a series of drones for a light show
Photo courtesy of Celestial

Although drone shows are a more sustainable option, they are costly and require extensive work to execute. With the work of drone programming, as well as artistic contributions like music, poetry, scriptwriting, and animation, these displays can cost millions.

But as the industry grows, it’s clear that governments and companies alike find that the end result is worth the price tag.

“The results are stunning,” Martin said. “A visual display that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.” 

Plus, these shows have the ability to maintain rich cultural traditions that mesh well with modern needs.

“Fireworks have been a part of the Chinese New Year tradition for thousands of years. We believe it’s still possible to maintain and respect tradition, whilst looking forward,” Martin said. 

“Drone shows offer a new innovative and green way to tell people the story of how Lunar New Year came to be, in a place that those celebrating will be looking to already: the sky.”

Header images courtesy of Stone Mountain Park and Celestial

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February 7, 2024 10:12 AM
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