18 December 2023

Drone show over Lake Burley Griffin confirmed for Australia Day long weekend

| James Coleman
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Drone light show

It’s a … yeah, it’s a bird, made out of drones. Photo: National Capital Authority.

A first-of-its-kind show will take to the night sky over Lake Burley Griffin over the Australia Day long weekend next year, inspired by the Vivid festival in Sydney.

The National Capital Authority (NCA) says the new Drone SkyShow will employ 600 drones to present a “trilogy of stories” on 25 and 26 January, all set to a “bespoke soundtrack”.

The fleet of drones will be programmed to follow specific flight paths and exhibit various colours and patterns with their onboard LED lights.

Each show will last for 12 minutes, and be visible from the main event hub at Commonwealth Place, as well as Mount Ainslie and anywhere along the shoreline of the Central Basin.

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There will also be food and drink vendors, musicians and roving live performers expanding the festival throughout the National Triangle.

Plans for a local drone show were first floated in tender documents released by the NCA in October, inspired by a similar event held over four nights last January.

Lights on the Lake involved a huge display of light and colour projected onto two large ”water screens”, accompanied by choreographed high-pressure water jets and laser lights set to music. A total of more than 40,000 people attended.

Vivid Sydney drone show

Canberra’s show is said to be on a similar scale to Vivid Sydney. Photo: National Capital Authority.

Small drone shows have a precedent in Canberra in the Lucie in the Sky drone dance staged by the Australasian Dance Collective for the ‘Uncharted Territory’ festival in July.

But this new show will be the first of its size, up there with Vivid Light Sydney, and thanks to a $450,000 grant from the National Australia Day Council.

AGB Creative emerged as winner of the NCA’s tender process, the same company behind Vivid as well as similar displays for ‘Expo 2020’ at the Al Wasl Plaza in Dubai and ‘Parrtjima’ in Alice Springs.

The project was also developed in step with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

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“As a Ngunnawal elder, I am delighted to work with the National Capital Authority and AGB Creative to present the community with a show that celebrates Australian culture both ancient and contemporary,” AIATSIS executive director Dr Caroline Hughes said.

“Our participation in the creative development of the show reflects our desire to invite the community to come together to reflect and enjoy the land and life here in the capital.”

The show’s three parts – ‘Welcome, Yumalundi’, from 8:30 pm, ‘Rejoice’ from 9:30 pm and ‘One and Free’ from 10:30 pm – are said to “embody the spirit of reconciliation”.

“As we bask in the visual splendour, let us revel in the essence of our land, appreciate the diverse tapestry of life, and take pride in the unique offerings of our national capital,” NCA CEO Sally Barnes said.

Hit 104.7 Skyfire

Skyfire returns on 16 March 2024 for the first time in five years. Photo: Hit 104.7 FM.

Another chief objective is to “activate” the lake, which so far has prompted the NCA to grant approvals for various cafes and restaurants to open along the ‘bridge-to-bridge’ walk to the point there’s said to be caffeine available every 700 metres. A floating sauna is also on the cards.

The next big event for the lake is set for 16 March 2024, when Skyfire returns after a five-year hiatus.

This will take the form of a 20-minute pyrotechnic display launched from barges in the lake, accompanied by a soundtrack played simultaneously on local radio stations Hit 104.7 and Mix 106.3.

Entry the Drone SkyShow is free; register online at Eventbrite.

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what makes this drone show the first of its kind?

I saw a 15 minute drone show at the end of a motorsport event at Sydney Motorsport Park in early November.

Drone show for a city of drones?


Now, just imagine if they swapped the fireworks, for a drone show. No more frightened and distressed pets or wildlife, a show only limited by the imagination, that could surpass a standard display of fireworks. We’re supposed to be Australia’s most progressive city, let’s show the Nation how to move into the future, and consign fireworks into history where they belong.

Yeah how boring ,, like watching EV race cars

People will just find a reasons to complain about the drones in the same way they complain about the fireworks now.

When exactly did progressivism morph into being against having fun and forcing people to give up anything they find enjoyment in as soon as somebody comes up with a trivial complaint. A decent stadium, the drag strip, anything amounting to a half decent nightlife, etc, etc, and now fireworks have all fallen victims to the tyranny of the minority.

This isn’t progressivism, it’s just the vain moralising of nimbys run amuck in a party city that is slowly morphing into all it’s worst stereotypes.

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