Last weekend I attended, for the first time, the Light Fest Lantern Festival in my city. I had seen some videos and photos beforehand, and I jumped at the chance to be part of such a fun event. I bought my ticket way in advance to ensure I wouldn’t miss out on this special evening. I got to the grounds and even though I was early, participants were already streaming in with their chairs and blankets, ready to wait for the darkness to come.
The participants’ package included a rice paper lantern, a keychain, and a marker. As I glanced at the instructions on the lantern package, I quickly noticed that two people were needed to properly light the lantern. Given I was on my own, I made my way to the tiki torches to find new friends. I chanced upon a young couple (Caroline and Taylor) and asked them if I could join them, and they welcomed me with smiles. We chatted for a short while and two women, Manon and Nathalie joined us. We ended up chatting about all types of things, including the Camino de Santiago which is on both Manon and Nathalie’s bucket list.
We all wrote personal things on our lantern while listening to live music. As darkness approached, the tiki lights were all lit and we waited in anticipation as the fire marshall lit one lantern to test for wind conditions. Once the organizers received their go-ahead, more than 5,000 participants stood by the tiki torches to light their lantern.
I have to say that I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that welled up in me as I glanced at the sky and saw thousands of lanterns rising high, dancing on the wind and creating a magical sight. The music played as everyone took turns letting their lanterns climb high.
Many participants shed a few tears as they saw their lanterns, covered in loving messages and tributes rise up to the heavens. It was a surreal moment when nothing else existed but the sky filled with thousands of dancing lights.
The experience was way beyond what I expected, and I highly recommend such an event. I want to thank my new friends for their hospitality, their fun conversations and their help in getting my lantern up with all the others. Thanks Manon, Nathalie, Caroline and Taylor.
This was a night that will forever be etched in my memory.