It’s fair to say 2023 was the ultimate year of drone light shows. Sure, I might be biased — as this is the year I saw my first in-person drone light show (that was a Star Wars show at The Oakland Coliseum Stadium by Sky Elements).
But it’s also the year that drone light shows broke into some of those everyday joys (for example, like Serena Williams’ baby gender reveal party). And it’s the year we saw them in increasingly more theme parks (did you see the Hong Kong Disney Frozen land drone show?), small town July Fourth celebrations and at conferences.
And this year, I had the pleasure of judging the single greatest event in recognizing the best of all those shows: the 4th International Drone Show Competition from SPH Engineering.
After a year of collecting the best drone shows, countless hours spent among the folks putting them on, and yes — hours of judging all those videos to rewind and replay them all to whittle down the winners — it’s fair to say the best drone light shows of 2023 are official.
This week, SPH Engineering announced the winners, which are a set of 22 of the best drone light shows of 2023.
The 22 best drone light shows of 2023 were chosen from a pool of 105 applicants who come from 24 different countries. Entries were grouped into any of the eight possible categories, which were:
- Drone Show Animation (300 drones)
- Drone Show at the Event
- Drone Show Storytelling
- Drone Show as a Marketing Tool
- Drone Show for Raising Social Awareness
- Drone Show with a Small Fleet
- Rising Star Drone Show
- Collaborative Drone Show
And with that, here were the winners of SPH Engineering’s Best Drone Shows of 2023 awards:
Best Drone Show Animation of 2023
- 1st place: Drone Show Japan with animation for the fairy tale “The Bremen Musicians“
That show is pretty extraordinary, merging the fairy tale “The Bremen Musicians” with endangered species. It pays special attention to the use of music, tying each frame of animation closely to the sounds — all the while raising awareness about wildlife conservation.
Watch it here:
Here were the other categories, as well as the top three on the podium in each category:
Best Drone Show at the Event in 2023
- 1st place: Lumasky Drone Show (United Arab Emirates) with Formula 1 race at Baku City Circuit
- 2nd place: Andrei Golenev (UAE) with Saudi Tour cycling race
- 3rd place: Celestial (United Kingdom) with Secret Garden Party
Best Drone Show Storytelling of 2023
- 1st place: BotLab Dynamics (India) with Janmashtami festival
- 2nd place: Stellar Lights (Australia) with Aboriginal Dreaming story
- 3rd place: AO – Drones (UAE) with Drone Show for “Como Residences”
Best Drone Show as Marketing Tool of 2023
- 1st place: Sky Elements Drone Shows (United States) with “The Flash” Drone Show
- 2nd place: Pixis Drones (USA) with Drone Show for One Piece series, Netflix
- 3rd place: Drone Show Europe by Spectrum production (Albania) with Drone Show for Advertising campaign of telephone operator One
Best Drone Show for Raising Social Awareness of 2023
- 1st place: Celestial (UK) with Humble Courage
- 2nd place: Sky Elements Drone Shows (USA) with Wave of Light
- 3rd place: New Rise Technologies (Saudi Arabia) with Ribbons of Hope: Riyadh Unites Against Breast Cancer
Best Drone Show with a Small Fleet of 2023
- 1st place: Stellar Lights (Australia) with “Seagulls and the Sea”
- 2nd place: Martin Merkl (Czech Republic) with Pretty Lights’s concerts
- 3rd place: Andromeda (Belgium) with “INVASION”
Best Rising Star Drone Show of 2023
- 1st place: That Drone Show Guy (USA) with Austin Rickroll Drone QR Code Prank
- 2nd place: Flyby Guys (Finland) with the first ever drone light show in Helsinki and Finland with a Nordic theme
- 3rd place: Illumin Drone Show Company Inc (Canada) with The Matrix 1 movie-themed show
Best Collaborative Drone Show of 2023
- 1st place: Andrei Golenev (UAE) with Kuwait’s national day
- 2nd place: Drone Sky Shows (USA) with Sky Symphony united Drone Sky shows Australia, Japan , China, and Singapore
- 3rd place: Dutch Drone Shows (Netherlands) with Festival Gijon
It’s certainly not a coincidence that the top drone shows of 2023 were named through, yes, a drone light show of its own. The results were presented in Las Vegas as part of the Live Design International Trade Show (LDI) at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the LDI 2023 Expo.
Sky Elements Drones (which had plenty of its own podium spots in the competition) put on the drone light show for the awards ceremony, illuminating the Las Vegas sky with 400 drones. This show featured winning-themed icons, including a trophy. As is the trend with many drone shows to arrange drones as QR codes in the sky, this show had a QR code linking to a webpage with the winners.
This is the fourth year of the competition , which began in 2020 as a tiny contest to showcase drone show choreography. Since then, the drone has evolved dramatically with more entries, winners and location representation.
We’ve linked to the first place videos below, but you can watch all the winning entries on SPH’s winner’s page here.
Of these, which ones do you think deserve the title of Best drone light shows of 2023? Leave a comment below!