Light show drones: the most popular drones that entertainment companies are using

Drone light shows are becoming more and more popular — which means so is the market for light show drones.

Now if you’re seeking to put on a drone light show for your event, you’ll need to reach out to a drone light show company (unless you want to put on your own drone light show).

And yes, some of those drone light show companies both make the hardware and put together shows. In the early days, Intel did this (though Intel has gotten out of the drone show business). In another example, UVify both builds hardware and puts on the shows.

But generally speaking — if you commission a drone light show — it’s more likely you’ll work with a drone entertainment company. Those are names like Sky Elements, whose job is to design the animations and execute the show. From there, companies like Sky Elements rely on drones made by companies with expertise in hardware to make LED-carrying drones.

And interestingly, many of the companies that make hardware and put on shows also sell the hardware they make for themselves, opening the door for more small businesses to put on their own drone light shows. Sky Elements ironically actually uses UVify drones. And by eliminating the proprietary element, companies like UVify have made it easier for entrepreneurs to get into the drone light show industry. This means drone light shows will only become more common.

5,293 drones fly in the air at once for what marked a Guinness World Record-breaking drone show, done in May 2024. Photo courtesy of UVify.

So what are the best light show drones? Here’s a list of the big players you need to know, in alphabetical order:

Firefly Drone Systems: Firefly Gen2 drone

The Firefly Gen2 drone. Photo courtesy of Firefly

Firefly is best known for its Firefly Gen2 drone. The company sells Gen2 drones as part of a turn-key drone show solution.

Designed with drone light shows in mind, it has a heated triple IMU system. This is critical for reliable operations during shows, as well as a bright RGB LED. The drone uses a Gen2 Smart Battery which offers 25 minutes of flight time.

When you purchase a set of Firefly Gen2 drones, you get the hardware itself, as well as a variety of software to execute the shows. That includes a studio app where you can either use Firefly’s pre-designed drone show animations or upload your own, as well as a pilot app so you can easily operate a drone show. You also receive pilot and crew training.

Firefly is based in Detroit, Michigan. The location makes it an ideal pick for businesses looking to support other American drone companies.

Lumenier: ARORA Light Show Drone

Lumenier has its roots in making FPV drone products, but it has taken its expertise over to the light show side of things. The company’s ARORA light show drone stands out as an endurance powerhouse, with 25 minutes of flight time.

It’s also a great pick for vibrant light shows given its ultra-bright LEDs. Those LEDs are 6x brighter than what’s standard. True white LEDs combined with vibrant RGB LEDs provide a more extensive range of colors

ShadowVu: QC1-D

A design for the planned QC1-D drone. Photo courtesy of ShadowVu

ShadowVu, which has its roots in the United Kingdom, is a new, lesser-known player in the drone hardware space. It had been making military drones, including the FW1-M and QC1-M.

In September 2023, the company teased a new product it’s making, the QC1-D, which is designed specifically for drone shows. Because the company is still in the design phase with its light show drones, details are scant. The company says it will incorporate many of the same tech as you’ll already find in its military drones. In addition, it will sell light show drones “at a more reasonable price than its competitors.”

UVify: IFO drone

A grid layout of UVify drones prepares for a Sky Elements drone show. Photo by Sally French

UVify maintains its headquarters in Seattle, Washington. It also has R&D and manufacturing in Korea. The company makes a range of drone types, including the $200 UVify OOri Smart Racing Micro Drone. But for light show entrepreneurs, the UVify product to know is the IFO drone light show drone.

UVify’s best-known client is Sky Elements. They have put on everything from massive, world-record breaking shows to delightful, custom shows for the parties of individual people (albeit rich people), like Serena Williams’ gender reveal party. Sky Elements holds a special place in our hearts for its Star Wars show. The show was the first one that Sally French, The Drone Girl, saw in person.

Prices for UVify’s drones can vary. Its IFO drone (that’s the light show system) costs $1,700 per drone and includes all ground control systems as well as other software SW, 24/7 support, and training.

At that price, the single Star Wars drone show featuring 500 drones would have featured $850,000 worth of drones in the sky at one time.

Verge Aero

Photo courtesy of

Verge Aero is another American drone company, this one based in Dallas, Texas.

In October 2023, it debuted a new and improved version of its light show drone called the Verge Aero X7 drone. Among the upgrades from the old model include more compact storage for easier transportation, faster battery charging, longer battery life, more precise GPS capabilities, bolstered wind and rain resistance, and user-friendly enhancements to the integrated control software.

Purchase of the drones also comes with fully-integrated, user-friendly software for drone show design and management. That software consists of three components, which are:

  • Verge Aero Design Studio: for designing shows
  • Verge Aero Flight Control Hub: the control center for the flight planning for a user’s fleet
  • Verge Aero’s Skystream app: delivers branding opportunities for operators and can send synchronized audio to spectators’ devices.
  • Verge Aero Composer

Of those software tools, the most standout is Verge Aero Composer, which allows users to make drone light shows with no technical experience. That’s all due to a pretty straightforward drag-and-drop interface.

Verge wouldn’t share how much the drones cost, only saying they come at “the most competitive prices on the market.”

“Verge Aero drones are made to purchase as part of a full drone fleet, and can’t be tested or purchased on their own,” company spokesperson Matt Pedretti said.

That said, if you already own previous Verge drones, you won’t have to completely overhaul your old fleet. The new Verge Aero X7 can integrate with any other X1 drone fleets you have.

“Verge Aero’s mission is to make drone shows ubiquitous. With our user-friendly show design and management software, Verge Aero drones give operators a complete end-to-end solution at a price point that can enable mass adoption of this exciting, new technology,” said Nils Thorjussen, CEO of Verge Aero, adding that his goal is to “democratize the drone show industry.”

What about DIY light show drones?

Yes, they exist! If you have the chops to put together your own drone — which involves soldering, programming and all that goes into DIY drone building — then you could save some serious money.

Home-built light show drones tend to cost about half the price of buying one ready-to-fly. Plus, the added ability to customize can also mean having a light show drone maximally suited to your needs.

Drone Dojo sells a course on building your own DIY light show drone. That course assumes you’re using the PiHawk drone kit, which costs $900. Though, use promo code DGLSKIT to save $50 off the Drone Dojo Pixhawk drone kit.

The course digs into programming your own drone show too, teaching you about the (free) software you need to coordinate a drone light show. Check out the Drone Light Show Course from Drone Dojo here.

A history of light show drones

Not long ago, the ability to put on a drone light show was largely limited to companies with robust hardware building capabilities, like Intel. In fact, technology giant Intel was one of the first major companies to put on drone light shows, thanks to its ability to make its own light show drones called the Intel Shooting Star.

At the time, Intel was the leader in not just making light show drones, but putting on drone shows. Heads turned in 2016 when Intel sent 500 drones into sky at once in what was then a Guinness World Record performance. Alas, 500 drones in the sky is kind of the norm these days.

Of course, Intel wasn’t the only contender. Intel served as the other big player in the early years of drone light shows. Ehang has had its hands in all aspects of drone hardware, ranging from the consumer-focused GhostDrone to passenger-carrying drones. Ehang also has put on its drone light shows. Ehang long went back and forth with Intel on who held the world record for largest drone light show.

But in 2023, a new world record was set for the largest drone light show. That went to Sky Elements, which on July Fourth weekend put 1,002 drones in the sky for a show that took place over North Richland Hills, Texas. But unlike companies like Intel, Sky Elements doesn’t make its drones. Sky Elements uses drones from UVify. UVify was previously based in South Korea. However, they are now considered a U.S. company with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Seattle.

And it’s Uvify itself that smashed Sky Elements’ record in May 2024, when it put an incredible 5,293 drones in the sky at once.

As more players come into the space, costs are getting lower and lower. That’s critical in making such shows more mainstream. One of the biggest factors in a drone light show cost? The capital needed to buy light show drones in the first place.


  • Brad says:

    Appreciate the article on Drone Show companies Sally as I’m really interested on this evolving and unique topic. Great Start!!

    Would love to get some real “honest” world numbers on cost and strength of each system if you’ve ever thought about doing a follow up article on the systems or how some of the new clients that bought drone light show systems are doing.
    Nice to hear the drone light show industry appear to be evolving and moving forward for the better though!

    Thanks Again!

    • davidba8908814e
      David Nyemaster says:

      I would really like to put a team together in Orlando Florida. Too much opportunity, to much entertainment opportunities lost. Who else in this area would like to get together?

      Thanks for all you do Drone Girl. Love your articles.

  • Aziz says:

    Great article

    Thank you!!

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