The New York/Philadelphia Lights Festival 2021
The Lights Festival is where the magic happens. When the sun goes down, the sky is dark, thousands of lanterns light up the sky. It’s an amazing and whimsical experience, to say the least. You have to be there and see it for yourself. The brilliant display of lit lanterns is a jaw dropping phenomenon.
The Lead Up
On October 2nd, 2021, my boyfriend and I were set to attend The Lights Festival in the Philly/New York area at 3pm. I had signed up on the website to be notified when the festival would be in town. Altogether, I paid $141.69 for our tickets. This included not only the tickets ($50 each) but the $20 fee for parking and $15.70 in taxes. Lanterns were already included but if you wanted more, you could pay for it. A bit pricey, I know.
Unfortunately, a few hours before we were set to leave, my boyfriend hurt his back and couldn’t attend. I was very upset. We had been planning for 2 years to make it to this festival, now he can’t go because of his back. It was a hard decision to make but I decided to attend the festival without him.
I felt bad going to this event without him. It would’ve been awesome to have him there. However, I knew he couldn’t manage an hour drive to the place or sitting for hours on end with a hurt back. But, the show must go on and so did I. I drove over an hour to Coatesville, PA where the festival location was without any delays.
Arriving At The Festival
Upon arrival, I parked my car and took several things with me to the line to get into the event. I waited about 15 minutes in line to receive my lantern. It comes in plastic with instructions on how to set it up and a marker as well. You can write or draw on the lanterns.
I recommend bringing the some or all the following if you decide to go to a lights festival:
- foldable chair (beach or sports chair)
- jacket or sweater
- money (purchase souvenirs or food/drinks)
- comfy clothing
- camera to take pictures
The reason for this list is because the event takes place, at least in Pennsylvania, in an open field filled with grass. There are no chairs provided but you can purchase blankets there, albeit they’re expensive. As the evening goes on, it tends to get chilly. You can buy food and drinks there as well but they’re a bit pricy. So, best come prepared with your own items.
After I got through the line, I made my way through the rows of people to find a spot to set my chair in. Once I found a nice spot, I sat back and relaxed for the rest of the event.
Activities At The Festival
When you attend The Lights Festival, there’s a bit more that goes on than just the lanterns. The lanterns are lit and released when it’s dark, so there’s about 3-4 hours to spend before anything happens. So, what else happens?
Well, for one thing, there’s music playing. Not just any music. Local artists from the area, and from other states as well, perform their music. They perform not only cover songs but their original pieces as well. This is such a treat to hear music from local artists.
Plus, there are raffles that happen about every hour or so. You enter to win merchandise such as T-Shirts. The MC will even ask some audience members to do certain activities to earn prizes as well.
Other than that, you’re just sitting on the field, listening to the music, and having a lovely time. It’s even better if you have your friends, family, or partner with you. But since I was alone, I made the most out of it.
As The Evening Went On…
The landscape and vibe of the event changed as the evening went on. More people arrived, the beautiful skies changed color, and the music livened up. Tikis were also lit as it got darker, which added to the atmosphere. I sat in my chair, ate my snacks, and continued to enjoy the show.
I loved seeing the variety of people at this festival. People not only from Pennsylvania were there but New York and New Jersey as well. Different races and ethnicities could be seen here. Friends, families, partners embraced in each others arms, it was a very warm and intimate setting.
Even if you’re by yourself, like I was, you can still talk to people and enjoy the atmosphere. However, I have to admit, I really did miss my boyfriend and wished he was here with me. I mean, when I saw couples hugging each other and sitting together, I couldn’t help but feel sad that my partner wasn’t here.
The color changes in the sky are like nothing else. There’s no light pollution or anything like that to distort the view of the skies. It’s just open field and farm land for miles in that part of Pennsylvania. I LOVED the color transformation of the sky as the evening went on.
The Magic Happens
Finally, it’s dark outside, and we’re all pretty antsy and want to light our lanterns. However, they warn you not to get ahead of yourself and light them right away. The festival staff need the “ok” from the fire chief to light the lanterns. Safety is their number one priority, if it’s not safe to light the lanterns, the chief will not allow any lanterns to be lit.
If this is your first lantern festival, like it was for me, don’t worry. They demonstrate for you how to set up your lantern and release it when it’s ready. This was very helpful as I’m more of a visual learner. But it’s pretty easy to set it up. The hard part is lighting it up. Why? Because you need 2 people to do it and if it’s done wrong, the lantern will catch on fire.
When we got the go ahead from the fire chief, I was so happy to finally get my lantern lit and sent off! I set it up without incident. I watched as everyone else set theirs up. When they were all set up, the magic finally started.
One person holds the two top points of the lantern while the other person holds the bottom to light the pad. Once it’s all lit, the lantern inflates with hot air. When it’s fully inflates, and begins to tug, you just let it go. You watch as your lantern is sent into the night sky with thousands of other lanterns.
I asked for help to light my lantern as I was by myself. A kind gentleman helped me light it. Once it was lit, it floated into the sky. I’m happy I at least caught it floating up into the sky on camera. It was hard to film or get pictures of myself doing the process because I was by myself.
It’s such a beautiful sight to see. There were 6,000 people there that night. All 6,000 lanterns lit up the night sky; a brilliant display for someone to see. You couldn’t help but to feel warm, amazed, and humble in that moment.
I felt so amazed and blessed to have witnessed something like that. It truly is like magic. I can’t explain the feeling. It’s was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I highly recommend doing a lights festival, you won’t regret it.
What I do regret is not having my lovely boyfriend there to experience it with me. It would’ve made my experience 10x better. That’s alright, there’s always next year. I know he’ll enjoy this festival and I can’t wait until we’re both able to attend.