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.
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.
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).
“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.
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.