Project Overview

At the beginning of October 2022, we were commissioned by Identity to deliver our most mesmerising drone display to date for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as a gift to London as part of the iconic New Year’s Eve Celebrations.

It was the first NYE event since the Covid pandemic started in 2019, that the public could attend the display. So we embraced this challenge of being a part of the first live NYE event for three years and keeping the drone display a secret up to the very last minute. 

400 drones, measuring 60cm and 1.2kg weight, took to the skies to choreograph the Earth’s Globe, the Late Queen and King Charles, which lifted off the Horse Guards Parade.

The event also honoured King Charles III with a message from His Majesty about the need to protect the future of our world and paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Celestial drones spelt out a positive message during the show, welcoming in “2023 with love from London” as fireworks exploded behind them.

A crowd of 100,000 people gathered along the River Thames’ banks to watch the celebration, which featured 12,000 fireworks displays and hundreds of drones flying around the sky.

The Process

As we were late to the celebrations with only three months to pull off this spectacular, the challenges were sky-high, but Celestial achieved a stunning drone display that dazzled hundreds of thousands of people. 

In our Frome HQ, we designed our flight imagery for our drones to choreograph our late Queen, the King, and the Earth globe and participated in the countdown to the New Year before Big Ben’s famous bongs began the 12-minute celebration.

We prepared for the event with small technical surveys of the London site a few weeks prior and conducted multiple rehearsals from our Frome HQ site. On December 30, there we had a test on site in London. Finally, on December 31 at 10 p.m., 15 drones evaluated signal endurance.

With limited space within Horse Guards Parade, Celestial kept the dazzling display to a 67metre height, so as to abide by CAA ruling for sterile area and stopped us encroaching on No 10’s back garden. 

It was an immense team effort from everyone. Our stress levels started to rise when the weather forecast leading up to the event showed heavy wind and rainfall. But the night was magical, and everything stopped at the right moment for a thriving drone light show. Someone must have been on our side this night, because as the drones landed, the rain returned. 

King's Coronation drone show
London NYE drone show

“For a high impact New Years Eve display, drones really do lead the way, especially when accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and light show. The storytelling impact of drones will always create those ‘instagram-able’ moments that will be shared around the world.”
- Barry Hughes, Head of Production.

Final thoughts and thanks

Working alongside Identity, The Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority, Titanium Fireworks, Tim Routledge Lighting, David Wakefield, and Kojo Samuel Sound, the iconic display was a huge success.

Drone light shows will play a much bigger and greener part in the future of New Year events.

This was by no means simple—what a massive team effort with so many valuable lessons. However, with the ongoing commitment of the Celestial crews, this was possible.

Discover how our drones can elevate your story and experience a live drone demo at our airfield.