Drone Stories - Franchise freedom first-ever drone performance over central park

Franchise freedom first-ever drone performance over central park


Drone Stories - Franchise freedom first-ever drone performance over central park

We turned one of our dreams into reality together with Studio DRIFT by bringing Franchise Freedom to New York. The first display of our award-winning drone performance in the Big Apple was also the first-ever drone performance flown over the city’s iconic Central Park. We decided to go big, scaling Franchise Freedom to 1,000 drones from the original 300 to fly over The Lake. As a gift to the people of the city, many were captivated by the magical sight of our drones with the city skyline as a backdrop. Thank you, New York!

Franchise freedom in central park

Based on an algorithm developed from over a decade of research into starling behavior, Franchise Freedom mimics a flock of birds soaring through the night sky. As a site-specific artwork, each performance is unique, with drones responding and adapting to their environment in an unpredictable and autonomous manner according to the performance location.

Mimicking a swarm of starlings’, Franchise Freedom flew over The Lake in Central Park for three displays on Saturday, October 21st, 2023. As an open-air public event, the artwork captivated thousands who gathered around the park to watch the performances, intended as a gift to the people of the city to reconnect and instill a sense of togetherness.


Reconnecting with nature through technology

Franchise Freedom reflects on individuality and group behavior. Humans, like birds, find safety in groups, coerced to act according to societal norms, with those who differ forced to live on the sidelines of society. What is the perfect balance between individuality and being part of a group? Is freedom an illusion? 

“Our role as artists is to build relationships between natural phenomena and technology, opening up possibilities to find peaceful harmony between science and our shared planet,” said Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, Co-Founders of DRIFT. “With deep thanks to Mayor Adams and Therme US, we are thrilled to present our Franchise Freedom installation, which embodies everything that our work stands for: uniting audiences through experiences that bring people, space, and nature together.”


Community and culture

Brought to fruition thanks to the support of the New York City Mayor’s Office, Therme US, Fishko Inc., and Nova Sky Stories, this artistic feat marks Central Park's most extensive art display since The Gates by Christo and Jeanne Claude in 2005. 

“Central Park is one of the most iconic examples of social infrastructure in the world,” says Robert Hammond, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Therme US.  “It is a place where New Yorkers and visitors alike can enjoy the benefits of nature, community, and culture simultaneously. Therme US is committed to developing and providing people with accessible, social experiences that incorporate nature, wellness, technology, and the arts in major cities across the US.”


More award-winning drone shows

Our drone show company loves to tell thought-provoking stories in the sky. Using the sky as our canvas, we have a record of producing art and commercial drone shows worldwide. Franchise Freedom has flown all over the globe, premiering in 2017 at Art Basel Miami, followed by shows at Burning Man in 2018, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2019, the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam in 2020, and UNICEF’s Gala in 2022.


Have you seen this Burning Man 2022 drone show or our recently flown Austin City Limits ACL Festival drone show? Are you interested in what a drone show costs or want to find out how we create a drone show proposal? Or are you ready to make magic happen in the sky? Contact us today.


Our founders, Lucas and Ralph, sat for a chat at our Amsterdam office to look back and share their favorite moments of last year. 


Want to join Luc and Ralph for the full chat? Watch along!



Our drone performances combine sight with sound. Awe with inspiration. Drones with art. Fiction and reality. Whether you’re looking for an intimate performance or a grand spectacle, expect us to push boundaries and have your attendees’ minds blown.