Once you’ve seen Walt Disney Animation’s “Tangled” … you will add attending a lantern festival to your bucket list. And once you’ve seen the floating lanterns in person, you won’t cross it off your list, because once will never be enough.
Last September, we took a drive over the state line and headed to Reno, Nevada for one of these events: “The Lantern Fest.” The event was held out at a a remote dirt race track outside the city limits in Fernley and the lines to get in to park were HOURS long. We thought we’d arrive with enough time to get a snack from the food trucks and settle in before the big event, but instead we were stuck outside on a 2-lane road for 90 minutes and were a bit frantic that we might miss the entire event. But… we didn’t.
Instead we parked and walked through a very nondescript dirt parking lot…
… out to the race track.
Checking in for the event was incredibly simple with our printed tickets, and each of us got our lantern (and the extras we ordered) and s’mores kit and walked inside the venue.
From there, we settled ourselves on the far northern edge of the track -like literally SITTING on the high banks of the track – near a s’mores pit and a nice view of what was to come.
Reason 1: It’s Tangled in Real Life
Miss L insisted on bringing her Rapunzel dress to the event… and wearing it 0.2 seconds after we found our spot on the track.
Reason #2: You get to be crafty!
As we waited for the sky to darken completely, we took out the markers we had packed to decorate our lanterns.
Reason #3: MORE S’Mores!!!
And we ate s’mores. We got a kit with our tickets, but I had packed extra s’mores kits as well with our extendable metal forks. I mean… you should never leave your kit at home when you’ve got it, right?
I must admit it started to feel like forever out there in the desert as we all waited for night, but the excitement in the air was palpable. We made friends at the s’mores pit with others, danced to the music from the main stage at the center of the race track, and relaxed into what was about to happen.
Before it was time to light the lanterns, the only light came from the tiki torches that were elegantly laid out in rows. It was the tiki torches that were our key to lighting our lanterns, and there were more than enough to help everyone out.
We waited patiently for the fire marshall to give the OK (I mean… let’s not pretend that this is all super safe and lovely because there are people and vegetation that can catch fire in the middle of the desert in Nevada!)…
And then they started to rise…
And you just can’t contain the happiness in your chest at that moment. It’s just… well… MAGIC.
Reason #4: Going from dark to LIGHT
Then it was our turn to try it out!
Mr. M carefully lit our first lantern, and then held it for about 30 seconds before it built up enough hot air to lift out of his hands…
The sky was bright at this point… just completely lit up by lanterns as far as you could see up and down and all around!
We tried to track each of the lanterns as they made it up into the sky, until it was too far away from us to pick out among the hundreds above it.
Some people left about 5 minutes after the first lantern went up, but they were the real losers. While they got out of the parking lot quickly, they didn’t get to soak in all of the magic that every additional lantern created for thirty more minutes.
Because honestly, when do you cry in Tangled? Is it the first lantern she sees? Or is it when they start singing together? I start to tear up on the flash to Pascal tearing up… but the water works let loose when they sing together. And that’s definitely after 5 minutes!
So we stayed! And we kept lighting our lanterns!
And we enjoyed the magic as long as we could!
Reason #5: MAGIC!
I mean, who doesn’t need an extra helping of magic?
We finally made our exit and slowly made our way back over the Sierras and into California… and planned for our next visit to a crazy lantern festival in the desert.
Because one is definitely not enough.
I encourage everyone to try and experience this in person at some point in your life! I mean, I saw the amazing photos and videos on a friend’s Facebook page and that’s all it took to convince me to go! Two of the most popular events are the Lantern Fest, which may be coming near you this year, and the Rise Festival out in the Mojave Desert near Vegas! And if it isn’t in your near future, then hopefully that scene from Tangled will keep lighting up your life!