RiSE Lantern Festival

Earlier this October, I joined with thousands of others in the Mojave desert to release paper lanterns into the sky. This year was RiSE's fourth annual lantern festival. The event is designed to inspire, uplift and encourage. Tickets open up soon after the event closes. You can purchase tickets as far as a year in advance, or you could get lucky by nabbing tickets the week before. The sooner you get your tickets, the cheaper they will be. I believe the "early bird" special ended in about September this year. 

Rise Lantern Festival Sign

Rise Lantern Festival Sign

Jess and I purchased tickets to celebrate her 20th birthday. It was definitely one of the best decisions we've ever made. Neither of us had been, so we weren't sure exactly what to expect. We turned the trip into a weekend getaway and booked a room at the Hilton in Las Vegas. The area where the festival actually occurs is about 30 minutes outside of the strip. I crammed everything I could into a duffle bag, we threw our stuff in the jeep and made our way to Nevada!


Since it was October, it actually wasn't boiling hot for once in this desert. Still, I wore denim cutoffs from Madewell and to compensate for the shorts I threw on my Free People Birds of Paradise bell sleeve top. Sunnies are from Quay and hat is from Nectar Clothing! I don't get cold that easily, but if you do I would recommend going with pants or something a little warmer than what I wore. Keep in mind that the event occurs once the sunsets and the desert gets pretty chilly at night!

You do have to do a little bit of walking from the parking lot to the event location. I read a few blog posts which made me think the walk was terrible and I had to wear tennis shoes--but this isn't the case! I wore some brown booties from Forever 21 (similar) and was just fine. It's a little rocky and get's pretty dusty at the location, so keep this in mind when picking out your shoes. I wouldn't recommend wearing Birkenstocks or any type of sandal. Definitely keep it close toed.


The coordinators of the event ask that you keep it pretty simple as far as packing. You are provided with a bamboo mat to sit on and the website and info emails tell you that you are not allowed to bring in your own blankets or outside food. I'm not going to lie, I definitely saw a lot of people with their own food and blankets, so apparently this wasn't something they were extremely strict on. If you really do need food or drinks, the venue has plenty of food vendors and markets where you can buy snacks and drinks.

This is a pretty mellow festival. It's nothing like Coachella where you feel claustrophobic, sweaty and super overwhelmed. There isn't really much going on until lift off begins. We pretty much just took a stroll around the venue to look at what our food options were, snapped some photos and munched on some hot dogs until the lantern lift off. 

During downtime there is live music. This year Vancouver Sleep Clinic played which is one of my favorite bands. They were incredible live!! You also have the freedom of getting as close to the performers as you would like. It was super cool because it didn't feel like a crazy mosh pit while we were still extremely close the the band. Most people took the time before liftoff to write on their lanterns. This was one of my favorite parts. 

When it's time for liftoff there is an announcer who will guide the group over a microphone. Together, we counted down from 10 and released our lanterns into the sky. It is one of the most awe inspiring moments I've ever had in my life. There's really nothing quite like being surrounded by paper lanterns with the words of people's hearts written all along them. I felt like Rapunzel from Tangled, and then some. 


There are two liftoffs through out the night, so with your ticket you receive two paper lanterns. These lanterns are a lot bigger than Tangled makes them seem. One of them was about half my size. So there's a lot of room to write. This also made releasing the lanterns a lot trickier than I thought it would be. It takes some time, patience, and the help of others to get your lantern into the air. There were stakes in the ground which you would light with a match when lift off time came. The wind also played a big role in the way your lantern liftoff would play out. During the second liftoff, the wind picked up which made it really hard to light my lantern successfully. It actually ended up catching on fire!! We ended up setting it on the ground and stomping out the flame. It was kind of funny to me and happened to a lot of the people around us--so don't be discouraged if your lantern doesn't successfully lift off!! The good news is that you can purchase more paper lanterns on site if you wish.


Altogether, this was the most magical night. You have got to do it at least once in your life. If you can make it out to the Mojave, I would highly recommend coming to this festival. There are also plenty of other lantern festivals held in various different states. But, there is really nothing like experiencing it in the atmosphere of the Mojave with nothing but miles of desert, live music and good people. 

I think the biggest bummer of the night was just the traffic getting back to our hotel on the strip. Even then, everything was so worth it. 

Here's to all the hopes, dreams, ambitions, heart aches, celebrations and more lifted into the universe.

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