the lights lantern fest review

The Lights Fest Review

Going to the lantern festival in Chiang Mai Thailand has been a dream of mine for many years.  When an ad for The Lights Fest 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.  This is a review for The Lights Fest that takes place all over the USA and not Thailand.

No The Lights Fest / The 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 beforehand.

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.  

The Lights Fest Location

Even though this was the Lights Fest Washington DC, it was actually located in the middle of a field on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania.  AND it was the same event as the Baltimore 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.

What to Bring to The Lights Fest

The Lights Fest advertised 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, 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.  Though do be careful, lighters are a fire hazard.  You will need at least 2 people to hold up the lantern while someone is lighting it.  Though this was the case with the tiki torches as well.

Bring one of these awesome chairs or this less expensive one here.  We saw them everywhere and wished we had bought them instead of our blanket.

Pricing and Tickets for The Lights Fest

I ended up missing the early bird special sale for $25 and got the almost last chance of $45 for this lantern fest.  I still didn’t bite yet, and waiting paid off.  They sent me a coupon for $10 bucks off.  But The Lights Fest event did charge us $3 PER PERSON for parking of all things.  And for some reason even though the Baltimore Lights Fest and the Washington DC Lights Fest were one and the same, they were advertised at different rates.  I’d clear your browser/cache/cookies and check pricing in nearby areas for the best price.  We ended up paying about $40 per person.

the lights festival lanterns

Flower Crown here

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Don’t Buy Tickets for The Lights Fest 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.  If you do choose to try this method of entry for The Lights Fest and bring your own lantern, please buy one that is biodegradable on that is not going to turn into a fireball when lit.  The ones that The Lights Fest provides are pretty good.   

If you don’t want to light your own lantern, you could again just go and enjoy the event.  We had a group of 4 and none of us got our lantern in the air.  So if you have multiple people in your group you could just get one ticket to get the lantern they provide and the rest take a gamble without tickets.  Again it takes at least 2 people to get the lantern in the air from the tiki torches, it’s better with 3 though.  One person to hold up the lantern and make sure it doesn’t set on fire and two people to actually hold the sides and try to light the lantern from the tiki torch.

the lights festival review

The Lights Fest was Poorly Organized

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.

the dc lights lantern festival

Lighting the Lanterns at The Lights Fest

I never thought lighting the lanterns would be so hard!  First, there were not enough tiki torches so we had to wait quite a bit before we each got to light our lanterns, which by the way we never got to do.  A storm headed our way and strong winds started to blow.  If there were more torches or more time we could have gotten all 4 of our lanterns in the air.

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Lighting the actual lanterns requires more than one person.  I would recommend 2 people to hold the lantern and one person to light it.  The lanterns are pretty tall and you need someone to hold it up while it’s being lit or the sides will burn.  If you do bring your own flame please be extra careful as it could be a fire hazard.

The Lanterns for The Lights Fest

Despite the disappointing aspects of The Lights Fest, it was such a magical experience.  When the sunset 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.

lantern festival review

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?

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the lantern festival

lantern festival usa chiang mai

If you want to see some video footage from the Lights Lantern Fest, check out my Facebook Page.

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the lights fest
the lantern fest
Yi Peng

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