“And at last I see the light…”
Ever since I saw that silly little Rapunzel in the Disney movie Tangled mesmermized by the sight of floating lanterns lighting up the night sky, I too started chasing after that dream to be mesmerized by the same sight. My dream finally came true!
My amazing boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the Rise Lantern Festival near Las Vegas and I was ecstatic! He ordered our tickets 3 months in advance because he knew the event was going to sell out fast. And it did! When I told my sister-in-law about it a month before the event, tickets were sold out. My cousin got lucky and was able to buy her tickets last minute from a friend who was no longer able to go.
Anyway, you’d think an event that attracted millions of attendees each year would be a little more organized. We opted for our tickets to be mailed to us. We had to pay extra for that of course. We didn’t receive our packet until a month before the event when we were told it was going to be mailed 2 months before. When we did receive something, it was only our parking pass. There is no customer service number on their website so we had to send an email and hope we receive a reply within 24 hours. They replied back in a timely manner, but it was a lot of back and forth.
Two weeks before the event and still no tickets in the mail. We started to get worried. Who knows if they’ll let us pick up our tickets at the event or give us a full refund. We eventually heard back from them, and I have to say, it was a sincere note. We were able to pick up our tickets at the event and because we were so inconvenienced, they offered to give us 2 extra lanterns and refund our shipping fee. Fair enough!
Fast forward to the night of the event– the location was about a 20-30 minute drive away from the Las Vegas strip. It was in the middle of nowhere. Understandable given the millions of lanterns in the air that will eventually have to come down. Parking is as expected and the location was about 1-2 mile-walk away from the parking area. Our shoes were literally filled with dirt by the time we got there. Again, no complaints. But I wish I knew some of these things to prepare myself.
So here’s some piece of advice before heading out to the site and while you’re there:
Bring a thick sweater because the temperature drops fast in the desert. Even if you think you’re immune to the cold or the Weatherman told you the weather is just right, be prepared anyway. Wear comfortable shoes, preferably one that’s worn out, because the trail is not paved and you’re shoes WILL get dirty! Unless you plan on being carried the entire time, by all means wear those Yeezy’s.
No need to come on time. But if you want, that’s totally okay! The gates open at 3:00 PM and the first lantern release was at 8:00 PM. There’s really nothing that you can consider to call “entertainment” while you’re waiting. There’s the food trucks but that’ll only entertain you until you get full and that’ll happen pretty quickly. We arrived at the event at 6:00 PM. We got our tickets, got our food, got our lanterns, and had plenty of time to write on the lanterns.
I’ve read a lot of articles about the history of lantern festivals and why it is celebrated. One important thing to know is that it originated in China. There’s various reasons for the celebration and many different stories behind it. But there was one story that stuck because I thought it brought a real heartfelt meaning. Some people would write down all their worries and regrets and the lantern will lift it away when it reaches the sky. I didn’t necessarily write down my regrets because I didn’t want to start feeling negative. Instead, I wrote my wishes. Other people drew on their lanterns. It really is up to you want you want to do. There is no wrong or right. The most important thing is that you enjoy and really experience this magical night.
When time to light your lantern, there is a specific method you have to follow so you’re lantern won’t rip or burn in the process. The lanterns are pretty big so at least 2 people have to hold it while placing the fuel cell over the torch. It takes a few minutes for the fuel cell to catch on fire, so be patient. When the fuel cell finally catches on fire, remove the lantern from the torch and hold it below your waist (or hold it close to the ground) and let the fuel cell burn. The fire needs to be high in order for the lantern to fly. When you feel it’s time to release, release it straight up. No need to push it up in the air. Slowly lift the lantern and do what Elsa did, let it go!
Once you release that first lantern, look to the sky and absorb everything that’s going on. You and millions of strangers have gathered for one special night in the middle of nowhere to see the night sky light up with dreams!
I had tears in my eyes when I saw those lanterns floating above me. I swear I felt like I knew exactly what Rapunzel was feeling when she saw the lanterns for the first time. There’s really no sight quite like it. I think even the most cynical of the crowd could feel that he was just touched by an angel.
My wish is that everyone can experience this magical event at least once in their lives and even if it’s just for that one night, can feel that anything is possible!