Rising lanterns as far as the eye can see

Last year, Michaël Villar and I went to the RiSE Festival outside of Las Vegas on the recommendation of my friend Patty. I didn’t really know what I was agreeing to but went and had the best time. To get a feel for it, check out my video on Instagram.

It takes a few people to prepare a lantern.

What to Expect

  • Even though it’s outside of Vegas, this is not a crazy party. They sell beer and wine on-site but nobody was really drunk.
  • The event is pretty family-friendly. There were lots of children there, at least for the first half or so (and children’s tickets are slightly cheaper).
  • The weather is pretty mild — you can wear pants be comfortable or a dress and similarly be fine.
  • The music very much fits the mood. Not too loud but stirring and melodic.
  • As part of your ticket, they’ll provide you with lanterns, markers, and bamboo sitting mats. Each person received two lanterns last year and I found that to be enough. You can buy more on-site if you wish though.
  • The event takes place on the Moapa River Reservation and is leave no trace behind, so be sure to take everything with you that you bring.
  • People are super friendly and just in awe of the experience. There’s a lot of collaboration to get and keep your lantern afloat.
  • It takes awhile to fill your lantern with enough hot air to get it to go up. Don’t give up and don’t worry if it’s taking awhile.
  • The lanterns go up, up, and away and will float off together in a ghostly parade. (Don’t worry — they’re 100% biodegradable.)
  • The mood was generally really uplifting (minimal punning intended). There was some talk of using this as a chance to work through grief and even though I didn’t have any real things to work through, I still felt buoyed up.
Can’t keep my eyes off the sky
Reminiscent of the Great Hall from Harry Potter

How to Make the Most of Your Experience

  • Plan to arrive early. Last year the traffic was so bad that what should have been <1 hour of a drive took about 2.5. This is frustrating and can be avoided by taking the shuttle and getting there ahead of time.
  • Bring water. Power banks are useful too since your phone battery will be shot once you start taking a photo every 5seconds. Hand sanitizer also useful given the bathroom situation.
  • It helps to have a lighter but other people are happy to share a light.
  • Wear tennis shoes. There’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the main area and it’s slightly rocky. I wore sandals last year and wished I hadn’t.
  • Meet up with friends before you arrive. Like any big public event, it’s super hard to find people once there.
  • Be there for the first launch. Although lanterns will be going up constantly afterwards, there’s something about the magic of hundreds of lanterns alighting simultaneously with the music that you don’t want to miss.


  • The section doesn’t actually matter too much. You’ll still choose where to be within your section and it’s a circular venue. If you’re on the edge in the wind’s direction, expect a lot of lanterns to go over your head / narrowly careen around you.
  • We got shuttle passes last year and again this year. It’s just more convenient for us (and cheaper). They run pretty regularly from two stops on the Strip.

I already have my tickets for this year. You can get yours here starting on May 17th. See you there!

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