Amber and I went to the RiSE Festival this past weekend located in the Mojave Desert near Las Vegas. Based off of a Chinese Tradition, sky lanterns are released to symbolize the letting go of past worries and bad habits in the new year. In Taiwan, people release lanterns with wishes written on them, and in Thailand, they are a symbol of problems and sorrow floating away.
Gates open at 3pm, and after driving 40 miles, we arrived at the parking lot at 4pm. The lot is a kilometer away from the launch site, so tip 1: wear comfortable shoes. You are also allowed to bring backpacks, and being in the middle of the desert, bring water (in a container with a sealed cap), sunscreen, and sunglasses! It also gets cold at night, so bring a jacket as well.
After we checked in, they gave us 2 lanterns each with mats that you can sit on anywhere in your section of the 360 venue. When buying tickets, the section doesn’t matter too much, but depending on the wind and how close you are to the center, expect a lot of lanterns to float over your head.
Provided with the lanterns are: matches, instructions, and a pen to write on your lantern.
Sand will get everywhere, so just accept it!
Although they don't let you bring your own food or drinks, there are different food trucks and beverages in each section on the outskirts surrounding the center stage. Amber and I got smoothies to beat the heat.
There are also tents with smaller snacks and light alcohol at every section.
Tip 2: Since the sun was still burning hot, we chose to sit by a pillar for its shade.
It cooled down really quickly at around 5pm, and the weather was perfect at 5:30pm. Here we relaxed as we listened to the different bands playing, explored the food trucks, and drew on our lanterns before it got dark.
Vancouver Sleep Clinic.
The first out of three lantern releases was at 8:15pm, and after saying a prayer to the victims of the Las Vegas Shooting, the announcer guided everyone through on lighting the lanterns.
When lighting the lantern, we made sure to hold it steady at the top and bottom to make sure the paper doesn't catch on fire. Also if you are having trouble, don't be afraid to ask for help! Everyone is super friendly, and there is a lot of collaboration to keep your lantern afloat.
Tip 3: It takes around 2-3 minutes to fill your lantern with enough hot air, so be patient!
Everyone releases in unison after the announcer counts down from 10, and with music playing in the background, hundreds of lanterns float up all around you. As the lanterns float away in the sky, they turn into flickering specs of light that resemble stars before fading away. They created a breathtaking view, and it was an emotional yet calming experience that I wish I could capture in photos and on film.
Tip 4: Be there for the first launch. Although lanterns go up constantly after, there’s something magical about the moment hundreds of lanterns simultaneously light up the night sky the first time.
A couple of RiSE volunteers shooting the festival introduced themselves to us after they noticed our cameras, and they helped us light the second lanterns. As we watched them glimmer, they told stories about previous RiSE festivals and their hometown in Utah.
Since there is only one way out, traffic can get very congested at the end of the night. Therefore tip 5: relax and watch the extra lanterns float away before leaving. The line to take a photo with the RiSE sign also died down significantly, so we took a photo before heading out.
The RiSE volunteers that helped take the photo on the right for us.
Amber and I still had to wait for around 30 minutes before the traffic died down, but we ended up making friends with the two guys next to us who had a full snack spread (including Oreos which they let us keep)! On the drive home, Amber and I reflected back on the night; everyone embodied the idea of the festival, with the unanimous message to end hate, seek tolerance, and rise together.