These festivals are popular all over the world. My family and I found one not too far from us in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. We had signed up for VIP notifications so we knew when the tickets went on sale. Like most events, the early bird tickets are always the cheapest, then the price goes up as it gets closer. We spent $33 per person which included parking for the event. There were different time slots you can choose from so not everyone would show up at once. By the time we go there around 5 pm there were already a ton of cars.
The festival was located on Bell Gate Farms in one of their fields. Parking was a pain since we had to park on top of a huge hill and walk down it then back up it after. Thank God it didn’t rain the day before because it would have been a muddy mess!
Once we got into the festival area we checked in with one of the volunteers where they gave us our lanterns with a little bag with a marker, light and sticker. The area was lined with tiki torches that would be lit later on in the night. You were allowed to bring your own chairs or blankets as well as your own food and drinks.
There was live music and some food trucks as well. We tried sliders from a food truck called Stuffed Buns. They had 2 options, veggie burger, pulled chicken, and buffalo shrimp. They were served with a side of chips as well. In my opinion they were a bit over priced since I paid $34 for 6 sliders and 4 cans of soda. There was also a food truck that sold stuffed waffles, both savory and sweet, a barbecue stand, a pita truck as well as a tent with pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. There was a good variety of options however the lines were ridiculously long.
The WORST part was the porta potties. Now I’ve learned to be able to go anywhere because when ya gotta go ya gotta go but these were disgusting. When we first got there everything was fine, they had water to wash your hands and toilet paper, but once it got to around 7:30 pm it was insane. The lines were 20+ people to every 3 porta potties. By the time it was my turn there was absolutely no toilet paper left and I was so grossed out. Thank God I carried tissues with me.
The lanterns you are given are made out of rice paper with a bamboo ring so they are biodegradable. You have the option to write something on your lantern before sending it up to the skies. I decided to write a letter to my family members that are no longer with me. You can write anything, your hopes and dreams, a quote, song lyrics, or a letter to a loved one just to name a few examples.
Once it started to get dark, staff members came around to light the tiki torches. This was already a beautiful sight. Once it got dark enough, around 8:30 they set off a test lantern to see where the wind would take it in order to get their firefighters in place. When we were given the okay, everyone started to light their lanterns. It was a lot harder than I expected, the tiki torches were sort of high and you needed at least two people to help light a lantern. Once you lit the lantern, you brought it low to the ground so it could fill with hot air, then it was ready to go. You bring it above your head and when you’re ready, you let it go. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced, watching my lantern to my grandparents float away.
Because people didn’t listen to the instructions and didn’t let their lantern fill completely with the hot air before letting it go, they wouldn’t take off into the air so we got hit a couple times with lit lanterns. If it wasn’t for taking quick action, something could have easily caught on fire. Some lanterns died out before they made it to the sky. A girl next to us told us the lanterns they don’t make it are for the people who are still with us on earth, while the other ones go towards the heavens. I thought this was so thoughtful.
Watching 7000+ people’s lanterns light the sky was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I tried to take some pictures but they honestly don’t do it justice. I can’t wait to go to another one next year. I would probably look into going to an event hosted by the Lantern Festival instead since more people attend it and it seemed to be more thought out, although I had a great first experience.