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  • Writer's pictureMelina Joseph

A Water Lantern Festival is One More Thing You Need to Add to Your Bucket List

I recently went to a Water Lantern Festival to celebrate my boyfriend and my 5th Year Anniversary. I had never heard of a Water Lantern Festival before until I saw an ad on Instagram, sponsored by the Water Lantern Festival’s official Instagram page. The beautiful, glowing, lantern-filled pictures caught my eye immediately and I knew this festival would make for a romantic and special evening.

The Water Lantern Festival I went to was located at Lake Gregory Regional Park, CA. If you are nowhere near Lake Gregory, do not fret; they have locations all throughout the U.S. and even internationally, including Canada and Mexico.

So what is a Water Lantern Festival? Think of that well-known, romantic scene in the movie “Tangled” but instead of the lanterns floating in the air, they are floating on the water. If you have never seen the movie “Tangled” you can either head over to the store right now to buy it and watch it (which I recommend doing) or you can look up “Tangled Lantern Scene” online and it will pop up. If none of the above interests you, well then, let's keep on reading and move on.

Parking is provided for $20 but if you are lucky you may be able to find street parking. Shuttles take you to and from the lake but it is only about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot.

The shuttle dropped us off right in front of the check-in area, where we received our Water Lantern bags that included our lantern and a colored sharpie. We had the choice between an orange, lime green, turquoise, or magenta bag. I had trouble choosing between orange and turquoise. I ended up taking the turquoise one. To this day, I still don’t know if I made the right choice or not.

Gates opened at 6:30pm but many people arrived earlier to find a nice spot close to the edge of the lake. Depending on what time you arrived, you either found yourself sitting right by the entrance or needing to walk to the other side of the lake. I got there at about 7:15pm and found myself walking to the opposite end of the lake trying to find a spot. Early birds really do get the worm.

After my boyfriend and I found a spot that received both of our approvals, we put down our blanket and bags. Then we ventured off to get something to eat. Luckily, there were plenty of food vendors.

For the next couple hours, we ate delicious food, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, listened to the music playing in the background and heard heartfelt and emotional reasons to why people attended. Many were there to remember and pay tribute to a loved one that passed.

In addition, this was the time to put together and decorate your lantern with the colored sharpie they provided or whatever markers and paints you brought. The lanterns had four sides to write on, which apparently was not enough for some people.

The majority drew a couple of drawings and wrote one phrase sentences on each side. Meanwhile, others wrote full on essays, letting out all of their thoughts and feelings onto the lantern. I drew a heart on one side, a list of things I wanted in life, and a note to my boyfriend. I know, I’m thoughtful huh.

Mine is on the left, while his is on the right. I guess you can say he is thoughtful too

9:30pm came around and it was time to light up Lake Gregory with our lanterns. Everyone was allowed to release their lanterns at their own pace and wherever they wanted.

I think it would have been more eye-appealing if we had to release our lanterns at the same time, since there would have been more lanterns in the water at once, but being able to release them when and where we pleased made for an intimate experience between you and the rest of your party.

The warm glow of the lanterns in contrast to the dark waters offered an exceptional view. The best part was seeing all of the lanterns clumped up together.

Once you released your lantern, you were free to leave or walk around the lake to take in all of its beauty. I made sure to get the most out of my experience and walked along the rest of the lake towards the end, where a rope stopped the lanterns so they wouldn’t drift off. The sight was spectacular.

The event ended at around 10:45pm.

Do yourself a favor and head over to to book your first or next trip to the Water Lantern Festival. You won’t regret it.

Cover Image via Water Lantern Festival

Pictures and Videos via Melina Joseph


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