Villa Terrace Hosts Milwaukee’s Largest Ever Drone Show (Free!)

On Wednesday, July 10 at 9 p.m., 400 drones will take flight and light up the night sky to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Villa Terrace Art Museum.

The 20-minute drone show along the Lake Michigan shoreline is free and open to the public and will feature approximately 20 different formations that depict various elements of Villa Terrace, including the museum’s signature Hermes statue and koi fish.

“The drone show will be a dazzling display of lights, music and aerial acrobatics, and is a gift to Milwaukee from the Friends of Villa Terrace,” says Megan Holbrook, a member of the nonprofit Friends organization who is leading the planning and coordination of the drone show and two other anniversary events that will take place the week of July 8.

“We want as many people as possible to come down to the lakefront to enjoy this spectacle of artistry that will truly be a sight to behold.”

Ray Chi, a renowned local artist, designed the show based on themes and images from Villa Terrace.  Altogether, Chi and Firefly Drones have dedicated more than 200 hours to create the aerial extravaganza. The A.O. Smith Foundation has generously supported the Friends of Villa Terrace and this year is the Presenting Sponsor of the Centennial Celebration.

Drone Show Details

The drones will take off just south of Bradford Beach and perform over Lake Michigan across a span of 600-700 feet, which is the equivalent of a football field and a half.

A fish with a light on it

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Milwaukeeans can enjoy the show from a variety of vantage points along the shores of Lake Michigan or purchase a ticket to a special Drone Show Viewing Party at Villa Terrace.

The drone show will be accompanied by a special soundtrack, created by artist Ray Chi, and simulcast on WMSE 91.7.

Drone Show Formations

The Friends group is sharing a sneak peek of three drone show formations.

The evening will come to life with Villa Terrace Art Museum etched in the sky and then quickly morph into other images, including the striking Hermes statue that guests first see when they enter the interior courtyard of the Villa and one of the beautiful koi that are in a fishpond (known as a “vasca” in Italian) that’s part of Villa Terrace’s renowned Renaissance Garden. 

A statue of a cat with a light up arm

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The evening show is being produced by a 15-person team of experienced drone pilots and engineers from Firefly Drones.

It will feature 400 drones equipped with LED lights that are programmed to perform a variety of synchronized movements to create images and patterns. Each drone weighs just over two lbs. and can fly up to 15 mph.

Drone Show Viewing Party 

One of the best ways to watch the 100th Anniversary Drone Show is on Villa Terrace’s beautiful patio that overlooks Lake Michigan. On Wednesday, July 10, 7 – 10 p.m., the Friends of Villa Terrace is hosting a special Drone Show Viewing Party with lots of “illuminating” activities planned.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 – 17 and free for children four and under and can be purchased at

All the Glowing Details

The Drone Show Viewing Party will be a night of amazement and excitement for kids and adults alike. As the sun sets, the festivities kick off with a dazzling array of glow-in-the-dark (GITD) decorations that will transform the venue into a luminous wonderland.

Party attendees are encouraged to wear white or other GITD clothing that will light up under strategically placed blacklights.

The party includes lots of activities to keep kids busy – a GITD treasure hunt, glowing balls to play with and GITD coloring with special markers. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. There will be GITD face painting done by a professional artist using UV-reactive paints and temporary GITD tattoos and stickers with celestial designs like stars, planets and butterflies.

Older kids and teens can try their hand at games like Jenga and cornhole. For a sweet treat, Pete’s Pops will be on-site selling their signature $4 popsicles in an array of vibrant flavors.

For adults, there’s a cash bar with glowing cocktails and mocktails that will illuminate under the blacklights. The evening also includes light snacks and music by a DJ from WMSE – 97.1.

Below is a map of “prime” viewing locations along Lake Michigan.

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