Exploration Place will be closed on Saturday, March 2 for Death by Chocolate.
The Drones Are Back!
Wichita’s drone light show returns as a festival to Exploration Place on September 21-23, 2023!
The festival will provide breathtaking views of 300 synchronized drones (100 more than last year!), fully choreographed with music. We are planning some exciting enhancements to the experience, including new custom drone formations, thousands of floating water lanterns that you get to launch yourself and a concert lit by more than 2,000 candles.
Schedule of Events
Join us starting at 6 pm for food, fun, music and more as we wait for the sun to go down and the drones to fire up.
- Gates Open
6:00 – 9:00 pm
- Explore the museum and exhibits
- Food trucks and activities on Entry and Festival Plazas
- Explore Store and Snack Bar open
- The Dark Side of the Moon in the Dome
- Live Science Show in the Kemper Theater
- The Dark Side of the Moon in the Dome
- Live Science Show in the Kemper Theater
- Candlelight Concert by the pond
- Decorate your water lantern by the pond
- Launch water lanterns in the pond
- Main event starts!
- Featuring Flow Foundry Fire Dancers, The Keeper of the Plains Ring of Fire and Wichita’s original Drone Light Show!
- Museum closes
- Gates close
Subject to change – check back for updates!
Museum admission, Live Science Shows, Dome theater screenings, Candlelight Concert and Water Lanterns are included with your Drone Light Festival pass/ticket. Food trucks, some outdoor activities, concessions and merchandise available at an additional fee.
New for 2023
Each guest will receive a floating water lantern to decorate and set adrift on the museum’s reflecting pond, creating a stunning display of light and reflection.
Experience an atmospheric and captivating live event, where talented local musician Trevor Stewart will perform with the soft illumination of more than 2,000 candles. The candlelight concert is from 7:30-8:45 and located at the Reflection Pond. See map for directions.
What’s Else Is New?
- 300 Drones -> 50% more than 2022!
- Twice as many LEDs on each drone, making the show noticeably brighter
- New formations! (Don’t worry we’ll be keeping your favorites from last year, too.)
- New launch zone, show directly above the Keeper
- Improved parking process & exit procedures
- More food trucks & Beer Garden
- Earlier start time
Food & Drink Vendors
- Batter Em Up
- Bongo’s Fruit Smoothies
- Busy B’s Catering
- El Gusto Mexican Eatery
- Funnel Cakes from Hall’s Family Concessions
- Italian Polish Sausages from Hall’s Family Concessions
- MiMi’s Eskimo Snow
- Moab BBQ
- Mooks Foods
- Mr. Cole’s Tropical Sno
- Narwhal Nuggets
- The Popcorner
- Rice N Tings
- Snoasis Ice
- Life Gave Me Lemons
- Waffles N Stuff
- Xclusive Event Services, Beer Garden and mobile bar
Vendor applications for food and drink are closed for this year. Thank you!
Activities and Organizations
- All Saints Lion and Dragon Dance Team – nightly performances at 7:10 pm
- Candlelight Concert
- Foam Party tent on Festival Plaza
- Integra Technologies (Thursday Only)
- Kansas Aviation Museum
- Kansas Humane Society
- Meet the pups of Paw Patrol as they keep the event free from trouble. Brought to you by Exclusive Events USA. (Thursday and Friday nights only)
- Oak & Iron Lanes
- Oklahoma City Thunderbolt Mobile Experience
- Shocker Sound Machine – nightly performances at 6:30 pm
- Society of Women Engineers Wichita Professional Section
- Water Lanterns in Reflection Pond
- and more!
Drone Light Festival Ticket ValueWhat’s a ticket to the Drone Light Festival really worth? The festival is about more than just the drone show. It’s several festivals mixed into one awesome night. We did a price comparison and were excited to see just how much value the Drone Light Festival tickets are providing to the Wichita community. The answer was staggering!
Here’s a breakdown for a family of four, as a comparison:
- Museum Admission …………………. $44
- Live Science Show ……………………. $20
- Dark Side of the Moon ……………. $72
- Drone Show …………………………….. $60
- Water Lantern Festival …………….. $224
- Candlelight Concert ………………… $140
- TOTAL: $560!
Drone Light Festival tickets include admission for up to nine people, parking for one vehicle and all of the things listed above for just $60!
Members, don’t forget to sign in to receive a $10 discount per carload.
Tickets well sell out, grab yours now.
Drone Formation Contest
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2023 Drone Formation Contest! From the entries, the following winners were chosen and their drone formation ideas will come to life this September.
- Serenity Adams
- Kasey Pickle
- Elias Cluck
What is a Drone Light Show?
Drone light shows are performed by swarms of lighted drones arranged into aerial formations. Almost any image can be created in the sky by a computer program that turns graphics into flight commands and communicates them to the drones. The lights can be animated, and choreographed with music, to create a mesmerizing and powerful experience.
What should we expect for the Drone Light Show?
The program will be presented by Firefly Drone Shows, one of the most experienced operators in the country. They are launching 300 drones into formations that will soar up to 400 feet above the Wichita skyline (as a point of reference, the Epic Center is 320 feet tall).
*NEW for 2023* This year’s show will feature 300 drones, compared to the 200 drones in 2022.
A variety of animated scenes will be presented, including several that have been customized specially for us. While we’re keeping some of them secret until the actual show… but, yes… we are planning to have a giant Wichita flag in the sky! The show will culminate with a special lighting of the Keeper of the Plains fire pots.
Where’s the best place to watch the show?
Our advice is to find a spot on the river bank or river path that provides a clear view of the Keeper of the Plains, and the two bridge pillars. If you can see all three, you should have a great view. The sound system will cover the whole viewing area. See site map for details.
*NEW for 2023* The launch site has been updated from 2022 and we can confirm that the show will be directly over the Keeper.
When should we arrive?
The gates will open at 6 pm and we encourage you to come early! On the grounds, there will be live music, demonstrations, games, local vendors, food, drink and other entertainment. It’s also a great opportunity to explore Exploration Place which is fully included with your admission to the event. In addition to all of our established favorites don’t miss the acclaimed permanent exhibit Health Inside Out.
Please note that if you have purchased a Carload Pass, that all guests must arrive in the same vehicle and none can walk-in separately through the gate using that pass. Because you have purchased a Carload Pass it will guarantee you parking at the event.
Details subject to change as we get closer to the event.
How do I get tickets for VIP seating?
The VIP area is reserved for show sponsors and those with pre-purchased tickets. Tickets are available for $100 per person and is in addition to the Carload Pass or individual admission. VIP ticket holders will have access to designated seating during the Drone Show, seating in the VIP terrace, food and drinks, a guided tour through the drone launch zone, and more.
Will there be accessible parking and seating?
A limited number of accessible parking spaces are available, and a wheelchair accessible viewing area has been assigned for the drone show itself. See site map for details. The Exploration Place buildings and exhibits are ADA compliant.
Accessible parking spaces will require the purchase of a Carload Pass. Individual tickets do not include parking, including accessible spaces.
Are outside food and drinks allowed?
Yes, with the exception of alcohol and anything in a glass container.
Are dogs and other pets allowed?
It is unlawful for any person to have any animal at any festival or community event authorized under a permit issued pursuant to the City Code* and occurring within the city, unless such animal is a specially trained service dog and actually in the control of the disabled person. For this reason, we cannot allow admission of any animals or pets within the festival grounds unless they are certified service animals.
*Pursuant to Chapter 3.11 of the Code of the City of Wichita
Can I bring blankets and chairs?
Yes, feel free! Be aware that much of the prime viewing area is a grassy slope. Some areas may be unsuitable for chairs.
What should I leave at home?
Please do not bring alcohol onto the site. Glass bottles and containers are also prohibited.
Am I able to leave the event and come back later?
Re-entry is not permitted for vehicles. If you need to leave the gated area by foot, stop at the check-in tent and get a wristband for re-entry. Without a wristband, you will not be able to re-enter.
What happens if the weather is bad?
The drones can fly in wind speeds of up to 25mph –by comparison – 20mph winds will cancel most fireworks shows. The show may be delayed for up to 1 hour to allow temporary weather conditions to pass. In 2022 we had to move the launch time forward in order to avoid pending storms.
In the event of cancelation or delay, announcements will be made as soon as possible via email, social media and using the sitewide PA system. Please make sure you are on-site 60 minutes before the show’s start time in case there is a last minute weather change.
In the unlikely event of complete cancelation, the rain date is Sunday, September 24. The show will be held unless Exploration Place makes the decision to cancel due to wind, lightning or other unsafe conditions.
Why is Exploration Place doing this?
The mission of Exploration Place is “to inspire a deeper interest in science and technology through creative and fun experiences for all.” We believe this is a creative and fun way to appreciate the increasing importance of drones and UAVs in the modern world.
Why should I watch this at Exploration Place?
Like fireworks, the drones will be visible from miles around and all spectators are welcome, wherever they are. But the prime viewing spot will be at Exploration Place, for two big reasons. (1) The positioning and orientation of the show in the sky will be optimized for spectators watching from Exploration Place. (2) The show is choreographed to music that will be played through a sound system that covers the Exploration Place grounds.
Are refunds available?
Tickets are sold by specific date, with no refunds or rainchecks. The rain date is Sunday, September 24. If the event is cancelled due to inclement weather or technical issues, the price of your ticket will be converted into a tax-deductible donation for Exploration Place. No refunds will be issued.
How can my business or organization become a vendor?
Find out more about becoming a vendor or displaying your organization during the event HERE.
Can I volunteer to help at the event?
Yes! We love volunteers. Individuals and groups (age 16+) can find out more about volunteer opportunities and register for each night HERE.