Virginia sent me a link to the Lantern Festival and asked if we could go for her Birthday, since it was right before her big day. Unfortunately it was sold out for the day she wanted to go. She was a little sad, but didn’t know that they had added another day to the festival since it was so popular. I was able to get tickets to the festival on the new day they had planned for the overflow.
Jasmine and Taylor where able to go with us so I had them help me plan the surprise. Virginia got the camping chairs, blanket, etc ready for us to take to the festival, while I finished up some work. Virginia thought we where going to one of Jasmines friends Band competition, and was happy to go along and support the show. I wasn’t too excited to go to the festival to be honest but the thought of surprising her and making part of her Birthday weekend memorable was a great feeling.
The Festival is scheduled from 1 – 8 and we showed up around 2:30, I thought showing up a little later things would be hopping and we could just join right in the fun. I was wrong. Seemed like we where one of the first 20 or so groups to come in, and finding a nice spot in the grass with shade was easy. While that was nice, at the same time I was thinking was the day they put together last minute going to be somewhat of a bust? With a show of 50 of us lighting lanterns then going home.
Virginia meanwhile was wondering why the Band show was so far out in the middle of nowhere, and slowly was putting things together. She was watching people more than reading the few signs that said Lantern Festival, and until we sat down and I had her read the box we picked up on the way in that said Lantern Fest. It was then that she realized at the same time she was reading aloud Lantern Fest, Taylor finished the word Festival, and Virginia’s eyes grew with surprise that quickly turned to excitement and realization what we where really doing here.
We ended up sitting next to a couple who came to the festival from California, Jeremy and Taylor flew in to experience the show, they also said it will be over 3,000 people coming today. The next day has over 7,000 people, and I think having to do the overflow day turned out better all around. We moved to the fire pit when more people started showing up and invited our new friends to join us. Go to this link to see what surprise Jeremy had for Taylor (JandTLanternFest).
There is good music, face painting, food, drinks, and a lot of people watching at the Festival. We spent a lot of time decorating and writing sayings, loving words, and thoughts of people close to us on our lanterns. Looking back on it, we all spent at least an hour thinking about each of us, other loved ones, our hopes, dreams, and more. Virginia got to experience her first s’more and that was fun for us all to be a part of. (Her 1st S’more)
Soon came time to light our lanterns, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I have had. People all around us where struggling to light the lantern so it will then build up enough heat to rise into the night. I was watching my family light theirs for the first time, the excitement of the fire, and anticipation to watch a lantern, they spent time writing something meaningful on, float into the sky with thousands of other thoughts, memories, and wishes.
After all ours where off with our hopes, dreams, and memories I stood back, and while I was videoing everything of course, I felt a calm or a peace come over me. I was holding Virginia to my side while we watched the girls stare into the sky at the thousands of lanterns, and it was just a very spiritual moment that I could never explain unless you experience this yourself.
In the end we all agree we are doing it again, maybe not showing up quite as early, but we will get extra lanterns and make a plan of lighting them and making sure we get to experience each others lantern float into the sky.
If there is one near you, GO! It is very affordable if you get the early bird tickets, and it is an experience you will want. This is a must in Arizona, and we may see you at the next one. If we do, come say hi. Please comment and let me know if you have any questions, have you ever been to one?