See the Light: Local Lantern Festivals

Ever since I watched this video I’ve been a bit obsessed with lantern festivals. I started mentally planning my trip to Thailand and imagining what it would be like to experience it in person. Not only is it a beautiful sight, but it focuses our attention upward, lifting our spirits, and encouraging us to let go of the past and hope for a better future.

Lantern festivals like the one in Chiang Mai have been celebrated for centuries, and the festival can last for days. From the States, it can also take days to get there. So when I learned of a lantern festival that was taking place a lot closer to home, I knew my prayers have been answered. Which is kinda the point of these events anyway!

In certain cultures, releasing paper lanterns into the night sky can symbolize warding off bad luck, welcoming good luck, and worshipping Buddha. This practice is popular in countries across the globe–even more so now that it’s been captured in an iconic scene from the Disney movie, Tangled. The beauty of the ‘floating lights’ in this story was inspired by the ancient rituals, and has since sparked similar events all over the world.

When The Lantern Fest made it to my backyard, it was more than just lighting lanterns and releasing them to the sky. The festival included communal fire pits where we could make s’mores at sunset, live music, games, food, face painting, and more. The afternoon was full of families and friends gathering to witness what it looks like to set thousands of flickering lanterns free into the sky. What does it look like? You have to see it to believe it.

Before the launch, many decorated their lanterns with inspirational quotes, wishes, notes to loved ones, and images of hope. Once the sun had set completely, it was time to ignite the lanterns and let them softly float into the air to light the sky once more. It was easy to get caught up in successfully launching the lanterns, but once you can step back and take it all in, the experience truly is enlightening.

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