This year, we visited the RiSe Lantern Festival in the Mojave Desert. We had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being one of the most memorable, uplifting, and powerful trips we’d ever been on. We loved it!
Logistics: Tickets and lodging
First things first — the festival usually sells out, so we made sure to buy tickets in advance. You reserve a section (not a seat) so that everyone is spread out evenly. Keep that in mind if you’re coordinating with friends.
For lodging, RiSE sets up some special event rates with a few nearby hotels. But from what I saw, the rates weren’t terrific so there’s no reason to limit yourself to those hotels. We ended up staying at the JW Marriott Las Vegas, which I loved. It is off-strip, but close enough to both the strip and the festival that we didn’t have to spend much time in the car and still felt far enough away from the madness of the Las Vegas strip.
Next year, RiSE is planning to offer glamping onsite too. I’m sure space will be limited, but it sounds cool!
Day of: Heading to the RiSE Lantern Festival
The one mistake we made was heading to the festival too late in the day. We left our hotel around 5pm, which I assumed would be plenty of time to get there, grab some food, and get ready for an 8:30pm lantern release. Nope — we cut it pretty close! Next year, we’ll plan to get there early so we can take our time eating, enjoy the live music, and relax a bit.
Parking is crazy too. Thousands of people head to the festival at once so the line to enter gets very long — another reason to leave early. We drove, but you also have the option of using a shuttle to/from several nearby hotels.
RiSE Lantern Festival: The main event!
After all the prep, lines, and crowds, we finally got to experience the lantern release and it was incredible. The best way I can describe it is to say that in a matter of seconds, it felt as though we’d been transported to a different world. The first lantern release is done in unison with the entire festival so the sky transforms from a dark, night sky, to a brightly-lit sea of lights. The change is so drastic and abrupt that it even has an emotional impact (I think I cried a little!).
And probably the best, most wonderful part of it all for me, was looking down and seeing Jimmy. Jimmy is two years old and still figuring out how the world works so when the sky lit up with thousands of lanterns, he was both confused and amazed. He stood still, hands at his sides, and mouth agape with wonder for about ten minutes straight. It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen. That alone made the whole trip worth it!
For more details or to sign up for email updates, you can check out the festival website here. Have you been RiSE Lantern Festival or another one like it? Let me know in the comments below!