Eager crowds usually gather this weekend across Quebec to watch a fabulous fireworks display for St-Jean-Baptiste Day, but this year the sky will remain dark because of the record wildfire season.
In Quebec, a ban on outdoor fires — in effect across most of the province north of the St. Lawrence River — includes fireworks.
In Gatineau, residents won’t be able to launch fireworks or use sparklers during the festivities for the June 24 and July 1 holidays, the city said in a news release.
There’s an alternative to fireworks, some argue, that could still light the sky for St-Jean-Baptiste Day and Canada Day without fears of sparking a fire.
Drone light shows have become increasingly more popular, promoted as a quieter, more environmentally friendly and animal-friendly solution.
For this year’s Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival at Mādahòkì Farm in Ottawa, organizers opted for such a display. Dozens of drones flew into the sky Wednesday night and formed constellations that told a creation story by elder and language keeper Barbara Nolan.
In celebration of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NIPD2023?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NIPD2023</a>, 200 drones lit up the sky at Mādahòkì Farm on <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NIPD2023?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NIPD2023</a> sharing an intimate story, Mewinzha…with drones! 🌎🌬🔥💦<a href=”https://twitter.com/ottawasolstice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ottawasolstice</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/IndigenousTO?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@IndigenousTO</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/Ottawa_Tourism?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Ottawa_Tourism</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCOttawa</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/RioTinto?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RioTinto</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/northstarpyrofx?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@northstarpyrofx</a> <a href=”https://t.co/lqeqOE8zlL”>pic.twitter.com/lqeqOE8zlL</a>
“For us on the farm, we have a lot of animals and horses that do not react well to fireworks and so it’s just a really soft, sustainable way to still have that night sky experience,” said Trina Mather-Simard, CEO of Indigenous Experiences.
A drone light show lacks the sudden flash and bang that can delight an audience during a firework display. Still, Mather-Simard said people at the festival were still captivated, with one person even describing it “as like beadwork appearing in the sky.”
Drone business booming
It’s all music to the ears of Anugrah Patel, who started Drone Light Show Canada in late 2020.
Based out of Manitoba, Patel’s company uses the climate angle to market its services: “Zero pollution, clean solution.”
He said his company has booked events across the country, including in Wakefield, Que., for Canada Day.
Patel also said as the business grows, so does his fleet of drones: from 50 to 200. He is also hiring more operators.
“We see people have started to accept these solutions and it’s a different way of celebration, but it’s unique,” said Patel.
Mather-Simard expects to see even more drone light shows with Canada’s warming climate, but she acknowledged they are an expensive alternative.
“I think because it’s so new. It’s a newer technology,” she said, adding there is hope for another drone light show at next year’s festival.