A spectacular light show featuring dancing drones will illuminate the sky above Central Park this weekend! Titled Franchise Freedom, the show is made up of 1,000 color-changing and shape-shifting drones that will soar above The Lake. Five years in the making, the twinkling array of drones will constitute the largest public art installation in Central Park since Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates debuted in 2005.

Created by DRIFT, a Dutch studio led by artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, Franchise Freedom explores the relationship between man, nature, and technology. The movement of the drones may appear random, but it is highly calculated and controlled. Embedded within the drones is a specially developed software which was fed over 10 years of starling flight behavior research. Nauta, Gordijnm, and co-developer Lucas van Oostrum then created an algorithm to translate that data into the drone choreography for the maximum emotional effect.

San Remo in CEntral Park

Much like the starling flight patterns, which are subject to many rules and variables, the fluid and seemingly free movement of the drones is restrained. This juxtaposition between freedom and restriction illustrates “how we as humans strive to live autonomously within a society defined by rules and conventions.”

Franchise Freedom performances are free and open to the public. For the best view, check out suggested viewing locations on this downloadable map. There will be three performances on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, with the first starting at 7 PM, the second at 8 PM and the third at 9 PM. The visual performance will be accompanied by a soundtrack from Joep Beving. It is available on the DRIFT website.

Untapped Central Park Walking Tour

Belvedere Castle

Next, check out more public art installations to see in NYC this month!