The fourth annual RiSE Lantern Festival on the Moapa Indian Reservation in the Mojave Desert some 35 miles north of Las Vegas a week ago was a particularly poignant event following the recent mass shooting.
According to their website, the goal of RiSE is to “elevates hope, ignites dreams, and creates memories” when ten thousand participants release their lit lanterns that have been inscribed with personal messages in unison in the desert to create beautiful memories.
The event is not cheap, as adult tickets cost $109 ($69 for children aged 3-10) – but each ticket provides you with two lanterns, a marking pen to inscribe your message on the paper lantern and a sitting mat. No chairs, blankets, strollers, food or beverages are permitted – although bottled water is OK. They have numerous food trucks scattered all over that are happy to sell you drinks (including beer and wine) and food, as well as stationary food/beverage kiosks around the venue. Oh, and parking is another $25.
(I could not find at their home website or the RiSE Lantern Facebook page – which is accessible to all and has even more gorgeous photos and videos – who actually runs it, and if it’s a for-profit event or if some goes to a charity.)
Below is a Map of their venue
The center circle is the stage area & the flesh-colored bar is the single Entrance.
The gates open at 3 PM and multiple music shows begin at 3:30 and continue until the launch of the lanterns, which is at about 8:30, followed by a fireworks show.
The event has become so popular that they needed to add a second night – and both sold out this year. So that’s some 20,000 paper lanterns scattered on the floor of the Moapa Indian Reservation – the site of the event in the Mojave.
According to the RiSE Lantern Festival website, the lanterns are 100% biodegradable, and they claim they scour the desert and retrieve every single one – plus any other trash they find along the way. They also buy carbon offsets for every vehicle they use in the setup and cleanup of the festival.
I could not find how they lanterns are actually put together, but you’ll get an idea when watching the videos. You can see they are quite large (I’d say 3 feet tall), and take 2-3 people to launch them. They have a forest of Tiki torches lined up in each section that you use to ignite whatever the “propellant” is that creates the necessary hot air – but I couldn’t find what kind of material they use.
Just a small view of the thousands of Tiki Torches
In its first year it got quite mixed reviews at Yelp – generally 4 & 5 stars for its stunning beauty and emotional uplift, but very low ratings for its logistical execution. No doubt they’ve learned from their mistakes and have improved if they needed to add another night to accommodate an additional 10,000 people.
But let’s visually enjoy a very unique event with some photos and videos.
The first video is by a layperson. I put it first because it provides a better idea of actually what goes on.
We’ll end with the two videos below that are professionally put together and are quite well done.