Going to the lantern festival in Chiang Mai Thailand has been a dream of mine for many years. When a Lights Fest Ad for Washington DC popped up in my Instagram feed showing a gazillion lanterns in a dark sky I was intrigued and I was not disappointed, but there’s so much stuff I would do differently! The Lights Fest is a Lantern event in the United States, not the Yi Peng Festival that takes place in Chiang Mai every year.
No Lights Fest / Lantern Fest is not a scam, but just very poorly organized. I still thought the experience was unique and magical but there are a few things you need to know before going that I wish I had known before hand.
I clicked onto their rather slow and annoyingly designed website from the Ad with little information and snooped around. Despite the lack of info, I decided to take a gamble and signed up to be notified when tickets went on sale.
Even though this was the Washington DC Lights Fest, it was actually located in the middle of a field on the boarder of Maryland and Pennsylvania. AND it was the same event as the Baltimore, MD Lights Fest. If you are planning on going I’d double check because they advertise major city locations, but the actual event is not in those cities.
I ended up missing when the early bird special went on sale for $25 and got the almost last chance of $45. I still didn’t bite yet, and waiting paid off. They sent me a coupon for $10 bucks off. But they did charge us $3 PER PERSON for parking of all things. And for some reason even though the Baltimore Lights Festival and the Washington DC Lights Festival were one and the same, they were advertised at different rates. I’d clear your browser and check pricing in nearby areas for the best price. We ended up paying about $40 per person.
Don’t Buy Tickets and Gamble
Our ticket price included a lantern. But honestly, you could attend this event without buying a ticket. NO ONE was checking tickets. There’s no barrier to entry, you just drive in. Now I’m not saying this will be true of their other events, but for ours it was. I literally could have just driven in without a ticket and brought my own lantern.
What to Bring
They advertise NOT to bring your own food and drink and that this would not be allowed. There were people everywhere with their own food and drink, again like I said before no one was checking. Plus as much as I’d like to support the food trucks they had invited, there simply weren’t enough food vendors. The lines were atrocious!! And the only food we were able to buy was from the venue itself, which was disgusting and barely edible. If you want food and beverage I’d bring your own and ignore their stipulations.
I’d bring my own lighter like this one, next time too as we never got to light our lantern! There were lines to the tiki torches they had prepared and we never actually got to light our lantern.
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The reason you probably don’t need a ticket is that this event was rather disorganized. They advertised it as a child-friendly event with lots of activities. Well, there were none of these activities, except for the actual bands performing. No moon bounce and no face painting.
Despite the disappointing aspects of The Lights Fest, it was such a magical experience. When the sun set and all the lanterns were in the air against a dark blue sky, I nearly cried. Yes, it was that touching. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and we were unable to get our own lantern up in the air. But I truly enjoyed the experience even though we didn’t get our lantern up. I’d definitely bring one of these lighters next time.
If we had it to do all over again I’d bring one of these chairs I saw everywhere! The looked super comfy. I’d definitely pack my own food and beverages.
So I’d definitely go to The Lights Fest again, but I’m not sure I’d buy tickets! And I’d definitely bring my own food. Overall it was a magical experience and I think with these tips you would be better off than we were. Have you considered going to Lights Festival?
If you want to see some video footage from the Lights Lantern Fest, check out my Facebook Page.