The Play of Fire and Lights – St. Stephens’s day Closing Ceremony
Event Description and Key Objectives
This holiday is about celebrating the founding of the Hungarian state. It is one of the most important national holidays for Hungarian people all over the world. A worthy celebration of Hungary's birthday. Participants could choose from hundreds of activities and spend a meaningful weekend in Budapest. This is a day to commemorate the country's 1,000-year history, the founding of the state and the founder, King St. Stephen, with Budapest's historic buildings and landmarks as a backdrop. The monumental closing ceremony was held on 27 August. "The Play of Fire and Lights" was originally planned as the official closing ceremony of the whole weekend program of St. Stephen's Day (20th of August), with a breathtaking firework, light, and drone show, but because of bad weather conditions, it was postponed to the 27th of August.
One of the key challenges of the event is that the production area must be extremely wide to have room to distribute the crowd for safety reasons. In that case, it means 4.6 km along both banks of the Danube. Our goal was to manage the same immersive experience for the audience at the whole production area. Besides this, due to bad weather conditions and considering the safety regulations, the show was postponed by a week just 9 hours before the show. It was a huge logistical challenge, because we had to rebook all the resources of the largest production of the year in the country at the peak of the festival season.
Basic information about the event
The Closing Ceremony included a spectacular fireworks display, and it was the closing event of the national celebrations on the banks of Danube . The fireworks were accompanied by a spectacular drone show in two locations, a festive projection mapping of the Parliament, the National Gallery and Gellért Hill, and visitors were entertained by other audiovisual effects as well together in a narrative storytelling concept which not only enhances the experience but at the same time reduces the carbon footprint of the show compared to regular large firework shows. A production team comprised of concept, graphic, and motion designers began creating content for the projections nine months before the event.
For the drone show this year we used 400 drones separated into two groups nearly 2 kilometers from each other in two different locations that were synchronized, with that solution we were able to provide the same experience for the audience from every part of the production area.
For for the projection mapping, we used a total of 70 high-performance laser projectors with a total light performance of 2 720 000 lumens in three different locations. For the light show, we used more than 500 light fixtures along the production area. As the audio component of the show is just as important as the visual, we used a state-of-the-art d&b audiotechnik line-array PA system to cover the whole area. During the show, fireworks were also used as a traditional amusement, which was a challenge because of the smoke made by the fireworks reduced the effectiveness of the projection. As a result, we planned a "smoke break" in every 5 minutes, which means that during this part of the show, the audience enjoyed the narrated story of the show accompanied by drone show instead of fireworks, allowing the smoke to be blown away by the wind for a more spectacular display of the next chapter of the content.
For the occasion of the 2022 St. Stephen's Day, we have organised a variety of colourful events to ensure that everyone can find the one that suits them best. Every year, the Closing Ceremony is the most popular attraction. The monumental closing ceremony attracted nearly 500 000 on-site visitors on 27 August and became the most-watched show on the Hungarian broadcaster MTVA with more than 1,5 million viewers. This year, we proved again that a complex audiovisual show not only reduces the carbon footprint of the event, but is also a much greater experience for the audience.
The closing ceremony on the 20th of August was preceded by several communications as part of the client’s marketing strategy. A website, Facebook and Instagram pages were created for the event where the public received up-to-date information about the organisation process and could read interesting details about the programmes and contributors. The event was promoted via television and radio as well as in public square campaigns. A mobile application called Szent István Nap (St. Stephen's Day) was developed for the closing event to be held on the 20th of August in Budapest and the series of events preceding it, which included maps, detailed programmes and a route planner. All this marketing activity made it possible that even though the Closing Ceremony was postponed for the 27th of August due to bad weather, still hundreds of thousands of people could enjoy and participate the celebration.
Our event embraced sustainable practices: selective waste management, a drone show replacing part of the fireworks, support for local suppliers, and a narrative storytelling concept. These initiatives aimed to minimize environmental impact, reduce pollution, boost the local economy, and raise awareness of Budapest as a sustainable tourist destination. MÁV-START, Volánbusz and MÁV-HÉV adjusted their schedules to the holiday, so we supported families to get to the event by public transport instead of by car.