Lantern festivals are a breathtaking sight for those lucky enough to experience one, but they are usually very hard to find; especially in the United States where our environment doesn’t always serve as the safest atmosphere to launch lanterns into the air. This is beginning to change, as festivals have been popping up across the west coast for the last couple of years. It all started with Rise Lantern Festival.
In 2014, the Rise Lantern Festival held its first event in the Mojave Desert just 15 minutes away from the Las Vegas strip, and it has continued the tradition annually ever since, expanding its festival locations to include Dubai and Australia.
What makes this festival so special? A multitude of people from different backgrounds gather from across the country to experience the magical moment where everyone releases their lanterns together. Though they all do it for different reasons, in the moment where the dancing lights float up into the sky and surround event-goers, everyone feels a connection.
Why do people light lanterns? People all have their own reasons, and they are all touching. When you arrive at the festival, you are given a marker to write on your lanterns. Some light lanterns to let go of their problems by inscribing their worries onto their lanterns and releasing them into the sky. Others send messages to loved ones who have recently passed or positive vibes for those they are praying for. Most people write their dreams and aspirations on the lanterns for the upcoming year to send them to the heavens and manifest them. Whatever the reason for sending, it is one of the most vibrant and surreal experiences to see the lanterns circle around you and rise above you in unison.
But the event doesn’t start at the launch. Hours before the launch, guests are encouraged to come hang out on yoga mats that are provided with the event tickets. They can enjoy live music, eat at a variety of food trucks, and prepare their lanterns.
After dark, festival workers light the torches that are placed around the event in anticipation of launching lanterns. There is a countdown to the first launch, where everyone sends them up in unison, and after that, the lanterns are continually launched for about an hour. Even the strongest of people have a hard time not shedding a tear at the beauty that unfolds before them during the launch. People come together and help one another light their lanterns when some are having difficulty. Others lay back and watch the lights paint the sky. It’s everything you would ever expect from a lantern release, especially if you grew up watching the Disney movie “Tangled”.
I visit the Rise Lantern Festival annually to re-charge and meditate. I spend the day reflecting on all that has happened to me in the past year and set my goal for the future. I write those goals on my lanterns and send them into the sky for the hopes of a fantastic year. It’s a day of reflection that I never want to be without. So, I encourage you to find this time for yourself whether it be at a lantern festival, a national park, or just at home. But if you are close to the Las Vegas area or down for the trip, I hope that you will check out the Rise Lantern Festival. It’s an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.