Travel Tales

Experiencing The Lights Fest

After a tiring work week, James and I went on a last minute trip to Mesquite for The Lights Fest. It’s the lesser known counterpart to Rise Festival, another lantern festival that takes place in Las Vegas. I’ve always wanted to go to Rise but the ticket prices have deterred me from attending. $129 for a regular ticket + $29 parking pass or $39 shuttle pass? It’s a bit steep if you ask me. What I like about The Lights Fest is their reasonable ticket prices. If you buy your ticket early, you can get it for as low as $25. We purchased our tickets last minute (5 hours before the event) and got ours for only $55 each. Not bad right?

The Lights Fest? What’s that?

“The Lights Fest is an experience where thousands of friends and families gather to listen to live music, fill up on food trucks and light up life by sharing personal wishes, dreams and goals. At the perfect moment, everyone ignites their personalized sky lanterns with Tiki torches and lets them take flight. It creates a surreal ambiance, where time slows down and your single flame rises and joins with thousands of others to Light the Sky.”

Although they are a for-profit organization, they also partner with non-profits and charities in every community they visit. They selected the Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada as their charity of choice that day.

Experiencing the lights festival

Experiencing the lights festival

What to Bring?

  • Food and Drinks (Alcohol not permitted) – Although there are food trucks inside the venue, I recommend bringing your own food and drinks. Their website says otherwise but I saw a lot of families who brought their own coolers inside the venue. Plus the lines were so long and from what I overheard, it took 1 hour for the orders to be taken and another hour or two to get the food. Either that or you can just eat beforehand.
  • Collapsible Chairs – Get comfortable. You’ll be spending a few hours waiting for the lantern launch.
  • Blankets and warm clothing– Stay warm! It gets pretty chilly at night.
  • Stuff to keep you busy – There’s some live music and entertainment but we brought some playing cards just to help pass the time.
  • Camera – To capture that once in a lifetime moment when hundreds of lanterns light up the sky.


From Las Vegas, it took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the location. I like that they had parking available inside the venue. It did take some time to get in and out of the parking lot but overall, it wasn’t too bad. It was actually somewhat organized. We made our way to the check-in tents where they gave us each a lantern and a swag bag (containing a marker, sticker and keychain flashlight) and instructed us to find a spot near any tiki torch on the field. Since it’s first come first serve, we only managed to snag a spot towards the back of the field. It wasn’t too bad though. I just wish they had set up more tiki torches for everyone.

Experiencing the lights festival

How to light your lantern

Lighting your lantern can be very tricky. Here’s some tips to help you:

  1. Hold your lantern above the torch.
  2. Light the ends of the block that’s at the bottom of your lantern. Ask someone to help you out. Its better with 2-3 people.
  3. Keep the lantern above the torch for 2-3 minutes. Have the other person hold the top of the lantern while you hold the bottom to prevent it from burning.
  4. Release the lantern, take photos and enjoy!

Experiencing the lights festival

Experiencing the lights festival

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was just one of those random events where you can have unique photo ops. But I was wrong. That surreal moment when hundreds of lanterns lit up the sky made me teary eyed. I can’t really explain the feeling. You guys just have to see it for yourself because it’s a view worth seeing in person.

Experiencing the lights festival

Pros and Cons:


  • Ticket affordability and availability
  • They have more events in different states compared to other festivals
  • They practice the “Leave No Trace” policy. Their lanterns are 100% biodegradable with limited burn time and flame retardant. They have a cleanup crew that picks up the lanterns after the event


  • Food truck lines were loooong
  • There’s not enough tiki torches
  • No assigned seating sections


Have you been to a lights festival? How was your experience?

Let me know in the comment section below.

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experiencing the lights fest


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  1. Avatar

    Lauren Craving Sunshine

    March 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I had no idea things like this happened so close to Las Vegas! Next time i’m in Nevada I’ll have to arrange it to coincide with this. It looks so beautiful <3

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Yea, even I was surprised! Its a wonderful experience, definitely. You have to check it out on your next visit to Vegas.

  2. Avatar

    Carol from Wayfaring Views

    March 4, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    What a fun festival. That night time lighting ceremony looks really beautiful. Although- I would worry about catching my hair on fire.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      I was quite worried about that too but thankfully no incidents. Just be extra careful and watch out for flying lanterns beside you 😀

  3. Avatar

    Mindi Hirsch

    March 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I have been to Las Vegas many times for weddings and to visit family, but I never heard about the Light’s Fest before. I totally want to check it out in the future. If it’s family friendly, I’ll bring my little nephews who live in Henderson. I bet they would love it too.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Its definitely family friendly! A lot of families were there. They also have kid friendly activities like bouncy houses and face painting. 🙂

  4. Avatar


    March 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I love these light festivals, we experienced one in Thailand not as big as this one but it was super fun. I was amazed at how high the lanterns went and how far they can travel. I would highly recommend attending a light festival, having music and raising a little money for Make a Wish sounds ideal.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Its definitely a fun festival to attend. The one in Thailand is the original one right? And yes, its a plus that they were able to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation.

  5. Avatar

    Chloe GoGo Budget Travel

    March 4, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    It reminds me of the lantern festival I attended in Taiwan. It was a free entrance but the lights were lesser. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Oh how fun! I didnt know they have a lantern festival in Taiwan.

  6. Avatar

    Cindy Collins

    March 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Wow i never realise that they had one of those light festival in Vegas. Only ever heard of the ones in Thailand and Taiwan. Sounds like so much fun. Those lights just look so beautiful at night. Going to one of those is definitely in the bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Yeah I think that’s where they got the inspiration from. It was a wonderful experience! It was certainly a beautiful sight to see. Hope you get to experience it someday!

  7. Avatar


    March 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Looks like something well worth witnessing for sure. The lights seem to dance across the sky. Great event for all, my kids would love this sort of thing for sure. Seems reasonably prices aswell which is a bonus.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Oh yes your kids would enjoy this event. We saw a lot of families that attended the festival. 🙂

  8. Avatar

    Megan Jerrard

    March 5, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I had no idea that there were lantern / light festivals like this in the US – have heard about them throughout South East Asia, but this is incredible – especially with the lack of light pollution in the Nevada desert 🙂 Love that the lanterns are biodegradable and they practice a leave no trace policy 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      I only knew about one light festival but I’m glad I found this cheaper alternative. It is pretty incredible! And yes, that’s one of the reasons why I went – they practice a leave no trace policy. Two thumbs up! 🙂

  9. Avatar

    Iuliana Marchian

    March 6, 2017 at 6:06 am

    That’s so cool. I was in Nepal during the 5 days Lights Festival but it was so different. Now I have to write a post about it and reading your post is such a fine add-on at my research. I think it’s a magic experience to see all those lamps/lampions.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Oh they have one in Nepal too? I’d love to read about your experience there!

  10. Avatar


    March 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    When I saw the first photo , I thought this was about Lantern festivvals in Korea or so. Never knew something like this happens in the US. Truly breathtaking and the photos bring the contrast between daytime and night quite nicely.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I know right? Its not something I thought they had here too. Thanks for liking the photos Nisha!

  11. Avatar


    March 7, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I would love to have this experience. However, when I hear about lantern festivals I normally think about somewhere in Asia. I guess it’s pretty cool that they have it in Las Vegas as well. I hate long lines so most definitely I would walk with refreshments or maybe have something to eat on the way there.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Right? Everyone thought so too! Yeah, we ate beforehand and brought snacks so we didnt have to fall in line for food.

  12. Avatar


    March 7, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I had no idea this was something that happened here in the USA. I went to the lantern festival in Chiang Mai this past year and it was incredible. It actually looks like Rise had more lanterns though, or at least more of a concentration in one spot, though that may be due to the scaled down events in Thailand after the Kings death. I would love to check out this festival, and I LOVE LOVE the leave no trace policy.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah, I think Rise has more lanterns coz its more popular. I didnt really know about this event till 1 day before the event. I hope you get to experience the one here in Vegas nxt year!

  13. Avatar


    March 7, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Every time I see pictures or video of those lanterns against the night sky I get goosebumps. It’s very beautiful. I would love to see this in Toronto but at the same time I don’t mind travelling to see this. Those prices do seem awfully high, especially 130. Even 50 is kinda high. It is beautiful none the less

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Yeah its really expensive. Thats why Ive never really gone to a Rise festival because of their ridiculous prices. Thanks for liking the photos!

  14. Avatar

    Stella the Travelerette

    March 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I’ve never been to a lights festival. I don’t drive so it’s hard for me to get to out of the way places. But I love your amazing photos! If I could figure out how to get there, I would definitely want to go.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks so much Stella for liking the photos! Maybe you can go with someone…a friend who’s willing to drive and see the lantern festival? It’s something that you should definitely see at least once!

  15. Avatar

    Danielle Desir

    March 8, 2017 at 4:19 am

    Sounds like a really memorable event! Your photos look beautiful. I wonder if it’s available on the East Coast. One of the things I appreciated is that the lanterns are biodegradable and the limited flame time, that’s a big plus for the environment.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you Danielle! I think they do. You can check out their website if they’re visiting some cities in the East Coast. 🙂

  16. Avatar


    March 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    That’s something I’d really like to experience. I almost went to the one in Thailand last year, but it didn’t materialise. The pictures are just fantastic!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Pedro for liking the photos. That’s the one I originally wanted to go to but thank God they finally have it here in the US!

  17. Avatar


    March 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Great article! I’m going to a Light Fest in Southern California coming soon though they have been having issue for finding a venue. I hope they do come through. Glad you had fun 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      March 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks so much Justine! I’m glad you like it. From what I saw on their website, they have one in San Diego and Los Angeles? Although the one in SD I think has been postponed for the mean time. Hope you get to go! <3

  18. Avatar


    May 25, 2017 at 2:41 am

    That looks magical! Must’ve been so surreal seeing it in person!

  19. Avatar

    Jenny Joy

    November 3, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Awesome pictures!! What camera settings and lens did you use? I’m going to a lights fest tomorrow and have a 18-55 mm lens kit, 55-300 mm lens, and just got a 35 mm prime lens

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 20, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Hey Jenny! Sorry didn’t see this right away. But I used a kit lens and a wide angle lens. Hope you were able to get some nice shots!

  20. Avatar


    March 12, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! Real talk: if I wanna go just to watch, is that possible? I know they choose locations that are outside of city limits, so I’m guessing there’s lots of space to watch even from a distance? I can’t swing the $50, but would love to see all those lanterns flying!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      April 1, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Chelsey,

      Sorry for the late response. I’m sure you can see the lanterns from afar if you are around the launch area. I saw some people just parked outside the event and were able to see them from afar so maybe you can try and do that?

  21. Avatar

    Cyrene Climaco

    March 30, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I’m attending the one for tomorrow night. Any tips on what to bring for food? I’m excited because it’s one of my bucket list! ?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      April 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm

      Hi Cyrene, sorry didn’t get to reply before the event but I hope you had an amazing time!

  22. Avatar


    April 4, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Would it be possible to show up without a ticket if you just want to watch and don’t want/need a kit?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      April 4, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      Hi Michael, that I’m not sure. I think you may have to purchase ticket to gain entry inside the event. If you want to watch, maybe you can do so outside the venue.

  23. Avatar


    May 10, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Heading to the Altanta event in a couple days. Excited!
    1. What time do things wrap up?
    2. I am sure that every city is different, but how long do you think it takes to get out of the parking lot (trying to figure out if we need a hotel room or if we can drive a couple of hours home)?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      May 11, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Amod! It ends around 8:30-9 pm if I remember correctly. and it took forever to get out of the parking lot to the freeway coz it was only one way. so just be ready for lotssss of traffic.

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