Water Lantern Festival lights up Ives Concert Park

A celebration of life, love, and peace with a lantern guiding the way. “It was a fun way to spend the evening with friends, sharing our dreams and wishes with each other and then putting it out into the world,” said Shreya Yedave, 25, of Danbury, who recently attended a Water Lantern Festival in Hartford. “We had a great time decorating the lanterns and the moment we released them into the water was magical.”

On May 11, the Ives Concert Park in Danbury will be illuminated by thousands of paper lanterns. The event will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. “This is the first time Ives will be presenting an event like this. It’s a very unique and incredible experience that brings many diverse people together to celebrate life,” said Phyllis Cortese, executive director of Ives Concert Park. “In an ever-changing world that focuses more on digital connections and less on meaningful relationships, it’s important that we bring unique opportunities and experiences to the community to bridge gaps, unite diverse populations and enhance our quality of life.”

The Water Lantern Festival was created by One World, which has brought the floating lantern festivals to 70 cities across the country. “We encourage families and friends to spend this evening together while enjoying great food, music, and the fun of decorating lanterns together,” said Jessica Dryden, public relations specialist with the Water Lantern Festival.

The event will feature a lively, fun-filled vibe that includes a scavenger hunt and lawn games. Also, there will be a variety of sweet and savory food trucks and merchandise vendors. A DJ will be playing upbeat, acoustic music while participants decorate their lantern then switch to quiet, reflective sounds and meditations during sunset launch.

Upon check-in, participants purchase or pick up a pre-purchased kit that includes a commemorative drawstring bag, a lantern, and marker. “They have the freedom to make it their own. It’s not uncommon for people to dedicate their lanterns to lost loved ones, goals for the year, positive thoughts, or artwork,” said Dryden. Throughout the night, people can share their lantern stories aloud. “People have the chance to talk about who or what they’ve dedicated their lantern to. It can be a very somber, emotional, and healing part of the event,” she said.

Dryden noted the company prides itself on its commitment to sustainability. The lanterns are made of eco-friendly rice paper and bamboo and they’re illuminated with recyclable flameless LED tea lights. “We remove every lantern from our venue following each event,” said Dryden.

The festival is a fascinating way to spend an evening. “Sometimes we all need a fun night spent outside with loved ones. Decorating lanterns as a family is a time that can be reflective, healing, and uplifting. The lantern launch is something unlike you’ve ever seen before. There’s something very peaceful about thousands of twinkling lanterns bobbing gently in the water as the sun sets,” said Dryden.

For more information, visit waterlanternfestival.com.

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