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The Lantern Fest: What To Expect & What To Bring

My nieces loved watching the Disney movie, Tangled , when they were little, and if I was being completely honest, I loved watching it too!  We’d make cupcakes and decorate pink and purple tiaras with jewels and stickers, & dance around our living room singing all the songs and reciting all the lines.  Our favorite part of the movie was the floating lantern scene, when Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder are in the canoe singing.  I thought that type of scene only existed in the movies, until I saw advertisements for The Lantern Fest on Facebook.

I knew that one day I’d have to go to The Lantern Fest to witness this spectacle in person, and so when I heard The Lantern Fest was coming to Michigan, I jumped at the chance to go.  This past May, just a few weeks ago, we experienced one of the most beautiful and unexpected nights of our lives.

{This post includes affiliate links to one of my favorite Disney movies & other goodies you’ll need for The Lantern Fest.  To read my Disclosure Policy click here!  Happy Reading!}

Going to a lantern festival has been on my bucket list ever since I saw this YouTube video from my favorite little singer and her daddy.  They sang my favorite song from Tangled in this too-cute-for-words video that always brings tears to my eyes.  It reminds me of when my nieces were little.  Sniff sniff.

Well, when I discovered that they were at The Lantern Fest to film this video, I had to go.  The festival looked so amazing.  Like something out of a dream.  Plus, it was a controlled environment for launching the gorgeous lanterns versus us just doing it in our backyard where for sure we’d set something on fire…that’s just our luck.

So, when I saw that The Lantern Fest was coming to Michigan, my sister, niece, reluctant hubby, and I bought tickets and headed “up north” to Clio, Michigan for a night to remember.

Included in the price of admission was an adorable little box filled with goodies.  I’m all about little details, so I found this box super cute and fun.  We were, however, surprised to learn that my niece didn’t get a box or a lantern with the child’s admission.  But, after opening up the box we quickly realized why…

Inside the box was everything we’d need for s’mores later on in the night.  There was plenty of graham crackers, marshmallows, & chocolate to share amongst the 4 of us.

We also found a lighter to light our lanterns (hence why no children’s box), a marker to decorate our lanterns, and a Lantern Fest Instagram Scavenger Hunt.

We enjoyed dinner on the lawn from one of the various food trucks at the festival.  There was also FREE face painting and balloon animals.

There were some organized activities and games near the stage.  But, for the most part, everyone sat in their lawn chairs and relaxed.

Once dusk was upon us, the various campfires and torches were lit all around us. It was a beautiful site in and of itself.

We decorated our lanterns with special messages, quotes, and pictures while the outdoor concert began.  S’mores were the perfect treat to enjoy while getting to know the other people around our campfire.  Meeting new friends during that peaceful time at dusk was actually my favorite part of the evening.

As the concert came to an end, we got the go-ahead from the fire marshal to light our lanterns and start “the show”.

I was expecting this beautiful time of remembrance and reflection as our lanterns peacefully drifted up into the sky.  But, what ensued was not exactly that.

You see, it was pretty windy that night.  Lighting the lanterns proved to be extremely difficult.  My husband, thankfully, was there to help because I’d never even used a lighter before.

Lanterns were flying all over the place…falling into the crowd, landing on lawn chairs, being engulfed in camp fires, and so on.  But, it was heart-warming {no pun intended…hee hee!} to watch everyone come together to help get the lanterns off the ground.

Amidst Josh Groban’s song “You Lift Me Up”  there was laughter, shreeks, and cheers as lanterns eventually made their way up toward the stars.

Here’s my YouTube video of our launch on my channel…

I’m so glad I was able to get some videos, because it really was beautiful to watch.  But, we were so distracted trying not to get burned that we didn’t take as much time as we would’ve liked to actually enjoy the beautiful launch.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening.  We made many new memories and made new friends.  I think The Lantern Fest may just become a beginning-of-summer tradition.

So, here are my tips of what to expect if you decide to go to a Lantern Fest near you, and what I’d suggest you take with you…

What to Expect at The Lantern Fest

1. Child’s Admission is cheaper than the adult because they don’t get a lantern and a box of goodies.  But, that’s ok.  Brianna enjoyed helping us decorate our lanterns, and it would’ve been too dangerous for her to light her own. And, we got plenty of s’more ingredients to share.

2. The face painting and balloon animals are very popular activities.  I would suggest getting in line for the face painting and balloons as early as possible, because once it gets darker they will close down the lines.  We stood in line for face painting for a long time and finally decided to give up.  The face painting and balloons were free, so everybody and their brother was in line.  They’re definitely worth it, if you’re willing to wait.  But, do these activities early in the evening so you have time for other things.

3. It can be a bit dangerous.  I get nervous when you stick a lot of people, especially a lot of children, in an area with so much fire. But, that’s the ex-burn nurse in me.  So, if you decide to attend this family-friendly event, just be prepared to watch your kids like a hawk.  Not only are their campfire and torches that are ablaze literally everywhere, but the lantern themselves can become quite flammable as we learned.

4. Expect to make new friends. The Lantern Fest encourages all attendees to welcome others around the campfires.  This is not an event where you get to commandeer a campfire for just you and your date.  So, be prepared to share.

5. Prepare for a moving experience during the lantern launch.  You will either be moved to tears from how gorgeous it is, or you’ll be moving to get away from falling lanterns and fire.  Ha!  In all seriousness though, it was one of the most beautiful and petrifying experiences of my life.  At one point I felt like we were a bunch of pyromaniacs that decided to meet in a field one night and light a bunch of stuff on fire.  To my knowledge nobody was injured, thankfully, and once the lanterns got going they were absolutely breathtaking.

6. Wait for instruction and permission to launch your lantern.  During The Lantern Fest that we attended, there were several groups of people who launched their lanterns before we got the “green light” from the fire marshal.  Not following instructions could shut the whole event down from the hosting town, and could ruin the experience for everyone.

What To Bring To The Lantern Fest

1. Lawn Chairs or Picnic Blanket

2. Lighter- the one we got from The Lantern Fest wasn’t strong enough to work in the high winds

3. Colorful Markers- to decorate your lantern even more

4. Kids Activities- like side-walk chalk, board games, books, etc to keep them occupied until the big event

5. Blanket- since it may get chilly late in the evening

6. Bug Spray- to ward off those pesky late-night summer bugs

7. $$$- to buy snacks and souvenirs, but remember face painting is FREE!!

8. Camera- trust me, you will want photos and videos of this event

9. Rapunzel Dress– if you’re a girl mom a Rapunzel Dress is a must, right??

10. Tangled Movie- for the drive home, although I bet the kiddos will be fast asleep

And, if you’re wondering what happens to all of those lanterns (3000+ at our festival!!  Wow!!) after they land, read The Lantern Fest’s Sustainability Promise. Spoiler Alert: they have lantern chasers!!

“Even with our massive efforts to collect each lantern, we realize that there is a chance we will miss one here and there. This is why our lanterns are specifically designed to disintegrate after a rain shower or two. Each of our lanterns also has a tag with a message prompting anyone who finds a lantern to let us know via a webpage created specifically to track lost lanterns.  For any lantern recovered after our crew cleans the area, we will make a donation to a local environmental impact charity organization.”

So, has a lantern festival been on your bucket list for a while, or are you just discovering this beautiful experience today?  Will The Lantern Fest be a must-do on your seasonal bucket list?  Maybe we’ll see you there next year and share a campfire and some s’mores.

And, if you’d like to see more little Claire videos, here she is seeing Beauty and the Beast, “Reflection” from Mulan, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, & my original favorite “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. You’re welcome in advance.  Grab some tissues…this is almost a little too much sweetness!

Hope you enjoyed sharing in this experience with us.  Thanks for stopping by!  See you again soon!

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