2023 drone events: the biggest drone conferences, races and meetups this year

This year, the 2023 drone events promise to be exciting, with a range of not just the usual stodgy conferences, but plenty of drone-related sporting events, drone light show premieres, drone photography vacations and other industry events to be had.

While I won’t be at all of these events, here’s at least a list of the ones I’d attend if I had an unlimited travel budget. So with that, here are the top 2023 drone events I’m looking forward to:

Disneyland Paris Marvel drone show coming this January

Premier of the Disneyland Paris Marvel Drone Show: Jan. 28, 2023

Paris, France

An epic, Marvel-themed drone light show is coming to the Walt Disney Studios theme park in Paris to celebrate the park’s 30th anniversary.

500 drones will form a series of lighting sequences themed to the powers of heroic Super Heroes such as Captain America, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch and, for the first time at Disneyland Paris, Shang-Chi. It’s all set to a soundtrack recorded by a symphony orchestra of 70 musicians recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, and incorporates not just drones but projections on the Tower of Terror.

Even if you don’t make it for opening night on Jan. 28, 2023, you have some time. The show is scheduled to run at least through May 8, 2023.

2023 drone events DRL Algorand SIM Live

Drone Racing League’s DRL SIM Live: February 4

Arlington, Texas

DRL SIM Live is the only live esports event of the 2022-23 DRL Algorand World Championship Season, and is set for Feb. 4, 2023 at Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas.

Tickets are required to attend and start at $25 each, which can be purchased through TIXR.

2023 drone events DRL racing miami

Drone Racing League’s MIAMI 3-0-FLY: February 25

Miami, Florida

Watch the world’s best drone pilots race the fastest drones in Miami as part of the Drone Racing League’s Championship event, Miami 3-0-FLY.

The race will transpire at Miami’s loanDepot park at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb, 25, 2023, transforming the baseball stadium into a video-game inspired, neon-colored aerial course.

Tickets are required to attend and start at $25 each, which can be purchased through the MLB’s website.

2023 drone events WISE Annual Conference
Photos courtesy of Merritt Moore.

WISE Annual Conference 2023: March 21

London, England

This one should be of interest to recruiters or other drone companies looking to improve diversity in their workforce. This one-day conference is being held on Tuesday, March 21 at IET London, and is designed to teach attendees how to recruit, retain and retrain female talent in STEM companies.

Especially standout is keynote speaker Merritt Moore who is both a female quantum physicist and a world class professional ballet dancer.

Tickets start at £210.00 and can be purchased here.

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Drone Soccer.

Drone Soccer National Championship: April 16

Utica, New York

There’s drone racing, but the next iteration in drone sports is drone soccer. Throughout the year, teams will have been playing in a variety of 2023 drone events including local exhibitions, scrimmages and matches. Then in March comes the regional championships. And 16 teams from Regional Championships will be invited to the National Championship race, set to happen at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, New York.

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Photo courtesy of Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia

Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia 2023: May 3-5

Singapore

This is the premiere drone conference for the Asia region, which will be held at Singapore’s Changi Exhibition Centre. It’s held concurrently with IMDEX Asia 2023 and is set to feature thought leadership forums and a product showcase pavilion.

Learn more about Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia 2023 here.

AUVSI gender-neutral rebrand
AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB

AUVSI XPONENTIAL: May 8-11

Denver, Colorado

AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 is a giant tech conference put on by AUVSI, which stands for the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (which is a giant lobbying group for robotics industries). Expect keynotes from major industry leaders, and breakout small group training sessions.

The event is held in a different location every year, but AUVSI 2023 is set for the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

It also hosts some smaller, co-located events such as the Law-Tech Connect Workshop.

Find out more about XPONENTIAL and register here.

0502 DMP 1915

7th Annual Energy Drone & Robotics Summit: June 12-14

Houston, Texas

The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is the largest event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI/ML, exclusively focused on the business and technology of unmanned systems, automation and data/AI in energy & industrial operations.

Although it’s not specific to drones, drones are obviously a huge component. And there is one workshop that is specific to drones. Dawn Zoldi, whose Law-Tech Connect workshop is being held in tandem with AUVSI, is running a similar tandem event, this one tied to energy. The LTC-Energy Edition is a half-day, co-located event held on Monday, June 12. It’ll focus on the tech and policies that specifically impact the energy sector with panels on topics including BVLOS, methane compliance, ship to shore and ship to ship ops, and critical security infrastructure.

It’s being held at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott in Houston, Texas.

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Photo courtesy of Commercial UAV Expo.

Commercial UAV Expo: September 5-7

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Commercial UAV Expo is a major, annual U.S. drone conference that spans topics including construction, delivery, energy, forestry, infrastructure, mining, security and public safety.

This year’s event runs from Sept. 5-7 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas. Get updates abut the event at the official Commercial UAV Expo website.

Mauritius Drone Photo Trip: October 1-7

Mauritius

This is the ultimate vacation for drone pilots.

Johan Vandenhecke, who does all things drone photography including taking aerial photos for hire and running an online drone photography class called Drone Adventurer Masterclass+ also offers drone photography trips throughout the year. They’re wildly popular; the May 2023 trip to Azores, which is Azores, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, is already sold out.

But there are spaces left to fly your drone on the beautiful island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Vandenhecke’s 6-day trip takes you to the best spots to fly, while also offering up live workshops in the field and editing workshops in a private villa.

And it’s certainly a relaxing vacation that’s not just drones 24/7. You’ll dine on food cooked by a private chef, and other activities included are swimming with dolphins, swimming, quad biking and hiking.

Learn more about the trip here.

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2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship: October 6-9

Namwon, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea

FAI, short for Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (or the World Air Sports Federation, for English-speaking folk) is the world governing body for air sports and for certifying world aviation and space records. While drones are relatively new, the FAI is not, having been founded in 1905 as a non-governmental and non-profit, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Its 2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship drone race will be held at the Chunhyangol Stadium in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do, which is about two hours south of Seoul, South Korea. Racers will compete for $100,000 in prize money.

This is the third race of its kind; the two first editions of the FAI Drone Racing World Championship happened in Shenzhen, China (2018) and Ningbo, China (2019), before a three-year gap caused by the pandemic.

And there’s a bonus event. If you’re into drone soccer, then don’t skip out, as the 2023 Korea Drone Soccer International Open Cup will be held concurrently.

Curious for a look back at what was happening this time last year? Check out my guide to the biggest 2022 drone events.

What 2023 drone events are on your calendar? Leave a comment below!

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