A few weeks ago, I went to the RiSE Festival, aka the most magical festival ever. I connected with the energy of strangers, set my intentions into the world and witnessed tens of thousands of lanterns light up the night sky. And it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.
On a comfortably cool night in October, thousands of people from around the US travel to the sacred land of the Moapa Valley to set their intentions and let their dreams fly. After the sun sets behind the desert mountains, the crowd lights together their lanterns in unison.
You can hear the weight being released into that brilliant, dark sky. From dreams to loss, unique messages take flight and become brilliant flames, like tiny little suns, rising above our heads. This event was so inspiring that I cannot wait to go again.
What Is the RiSE Festival?
“RiSE elevates hope, ignites dreams, and creates moments you will never forget.”
You know the scene in Tangled where Repunzel finally sees the floating lanterns fly into the sky? Yeah, it’s like that. Pure magic.
The RiSE Festival is a festival bringing hope, love and peace through the act of lighting thousands of lanterns and sending them off into the dark, night sky. It is a place where thousands of strangers come together and in a single act, become a community. In a beautiful display, the collective voice of your dreams and thousand of others become an unforgettable movement.
The symbol is basic in practice but to see the first thousand lanterns rise in unison is so powerful that your heart will burst!
In addition to lighting two of your own lanterns (representing your hopes, dreams, prayers or resolutions to be set free), there is also live music by handpicked local artists, a variety of food trucks and alcohol (because what’s a festival without overpriced beer?).
Not only is this event incredibly magical, but eco-friendly and sustainable. Much like Burning Man, the RiSE Festival has a “Leave No Trace” policy. The crew retrieves 100% of the lanterns. Should they miss one, each lantern is 100% biodegradable.
When and Where is The RiSE Festival?
The RiSE Festival is held about 30 miles Northeast of Las Vegas in Moapa Valley, Nevada. Typically the event is held within the first week of October, making it perfect weather wise.
We set out to make this a brief trip to Las Vegas, one of our favorite cities in the US. As per usual, we gambled until about 4 am, slept in until about noon and went straight to the festival!
From Las Vegas, head north on the 15 freeway
Take exit 75
Follow the traffic for about 5 minutes until you get to the lot
Walk with the other hoards of people until you get to the entrance and be enjoy the festival!
What Can You Expect?
You can expect great food. You can expect tasty beer. You can expect local, handpicked musicians. And you can expect an incredible community of dreamers and peace-seekers. You will feel the buzz of their energy flowing beneath your feet and whizzing in the air around you.
I expected this to be just a series of floating lanterns, looking beautiful and making for some lovely photos.
But it was so much more than that.
For many, this was an opportunity to let go of their past. The demons that had stuck their claws into their soul and weighed them down with negativity.
For others, this was an opportunity to take their sense of loss, fear or sadness and replace it with hope. As their lantern (displayed a handwritten message that was deep and powerful) lifted into the sky, the symbolism soon became cathartic and the festival goers rejoiced in feeling a sense of peace.
And, well, for others it was just an Instagram opportunity.
What guide would this be without some insider tips, eh?
Unless you have some beautiful vision with your art, photography or intentions, avoid white. You’re in the middle of the desert and it will get dirty. Or at least bring something you don’t mind getting filthy.
On that note, dress comfortably. I wore booties with a 2-inch heel and regretted it immensely. Wear sneakers, loose clothing and be sure to bring a jacket for when the sun sets.
While the food trucks are delicious, come with some food in your belly. The prices are quite high (beer was $8, entrees about $14) and it was alright. It’s enough to make you feel satisfied, but not worth the price.
You will receive a felt pen, 2 paper lanterns, matches and a mat to sit on. If you want to bring extra blankets or pens, you can. Although just be prepared that they will get dirty.
Come with intentions, dreams or a message. You’re going to write on your lantern and while you have plenty of time to think about it, you want to make sure it really means something to you.
Watch your surroundings or you will get lit on fire! Some of the lanterns don’t light properly or the winds take hold of them. Which means you could actually set fire. We almost got hit in the head by several lanterns and we almost set a child aflame! Seriously, be super careful, it’s fucking fire.