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The Wonder of the Water Lantern Festival

My family and I were thrilled to attend the Water Lantern Festival in Boston on the Esplanade. We honestly weren’t sure really what to expect. I read the info on their website. However, I’ve learned, sometimes you really need to experience an event rather than read about it. The Water Lantern Festival is something magical to experience. I know if you attend one of their festivals you will be just as amazed as we were.

the girls decorated lanterns
Ainsley and Evelyn’s lanterns

My family was provided with complimentary tickets to the Water Lantern Festival in order to facilitate this post. All opinions in this post, however, are 100% our own and not influenced by the items provided. This post does contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.

I try to find fun festivals for us to attend each year. We’ve gone to winter festivals, pie day festivals (mathematical pie) as well as food festivals, especially strawberry festivals and fall festivals. I love them all. I think festivals bring out the joy people have for getting together. And if it’s a themed festival you might even get fanatics like at the pickle festival. I love watching these fans eat new foods. Their faces are priceless, especially if it’s super hot or super sour. It’s always a great time.

The beginning of the festival

Arriving at the Water Lantern Festival

The Water Lantern Festival is a mix of family fun, creativity, inspiration, music, food, and amazement when you launch the lanterns. We arrived when the festival started so we snagged a great spot on the lawn right in front of the Hatch Shell. If you don’t know Boston, this is where the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays on the 4th of July. It’s on what we call the Esplanade which is a greenway that runs along the side of the Charles River. It’s a great space to walk along the river. Bostonians love this space.

Hatch Shell - festival style
The Hatch Shell lawn after most people had arrived

After we set out our blanket we checked in and received our event wristbands, as well as the backpacks and lanterns. Next of course was food! We came with hungry bellies knowing there would be food trucks to explore. We were happy with our choices. Since Evelyn has celiac disease this can be a bit tricky for us. However, we were thrilled to have Rice Burg which is gluten-free. They use rice patties instead of buns for their burgers -ingenious! They also have rice bowls, salad bowls, and fries. The flavors of all 4 different dishes we ordered were really tasty. I applaud a food truck for being completely gluten-free as well as having vegetarian options.

walking along
on the way to get food
excellent festival food
It was yummy food. Thanks, Rice Burg.

Decorating our Lanterns

After eating our dinner we spread out and started decorating our lanterns. In the package you receive with your lantern is one sharpie marker. However, it was really luck of the draw what color marker you received. We were glad that our neighbors on the next blanket over brought their own markers and were willing to share. This really helped the girls to be creative now that they had a host of colors to choose from. Rainbows, beach scenes, tic-tac-toe, and stars were just the start of their creativity. Yet another neighbor had stencils that the girls were able to borrow. Ok, maybe not creative there but we still a lot of fun making ours.

Pin for Later

More Festival Food

We love food in our family so of course, we had to try the desserts that were offered. We had waffles with a variety of toppings. Evelyn thankfully was able to get straight-up vanilla ice cream. A classic but also a favorite and on a hot summer night it was just the ticket.

waffle- festival food
My waffle with Belgian chocolate and whipped cream. Delicious!

Working on the Scavenger Hunt

While Clint and Evelyn were getting the waffles, another family came by to give Ainsley and I a high-five. They explained it was an item on the scavenger hunt list. The scavenger hunt is a fun way to meet others at the event. You need to complete 10 of the 15 items on the list and turn it into the ‘store’ to have a chance to win cool items. After completing her lantern, Ainsley was excited to complete the items needed for the scavenger hunt. We took a walk around the lawn to find her favorite banner. She chose “smile”. That truly represents Ainsley, so it worked.

Ainsley in front of smile banner
Our resident smile girl

Next, she wanted to high-five people. We spotted a group of women who came to the festival all decked out in period costumes. They brought a folder table and chairs to enjoy the elaborate feast they brought. It was a sight for certain. We asked if they would high-five Ainsley and they were all happy to participate, which was awesome.

She also picked up a few pieces of trash and put them in the bin. We walked the shoreline, visited the hair bow and toy vendors as well as found a little boy who was wearing a hat and sunglasses. These were all items she checked off on her scavenger hunt form. When we were finished we handed it into the ‘store’. Unfortunately, we didn’t win any of the prizes but it was still a lot of fun to play.

And Some More Festival Food

We were relaxing, listening to music and enjoying the slow descent of the sun when Clint spotted frozen ice. When the weather is warm, frozen flavored ice is the way to go. Cool, refreshing and colorful! Our resident blue girl, of course, got blue raspberry. It helped with her whole blue theme.

blue icy you can only get at festivals
Blue tongue!

Inspirational Stories

The announcers also asked if anyone would like to come up to the stage and tell the story behind how they decorated their lantern. There were many people that went up. The stories varied from “I like rainbows” to “it’s for my Dad who is in the army” “to a tribute for a friend battling cancer”. Many sentimental and inspirational stories.

Launch Time

Since the sun officially set it was time to launch. We packed up our picnic blanket and made our way to the launch areas. It’s very safe and helpful the way the organizers set up the launch areas. There are barriers all along the water that corrugated metal sheets are attached to. When it’s your turn, you place your lantern on the sheet of metal, let go and the lantern slides down into the water. It’s a lot of fun to watch your lantern start to float away. You will see this in the video.

the launch
launching the lanterns
Water lantern Festival
More lanterns
more lanterns at the festival
lighting up the water

Everyone at the festival was very patient, kind and understanding when people were taking pictures of their lanterns and again as they launched. The launches on the far side of the water were steeper than on the Hatch Shell side. This made several lanterns capsize. I was talking to some people who this happened too. Further down the ‘pond’ others had moved the barriers out of the way to get to their lanterns and right them. It was so nice to see everyone trying to help each other out.

launching lanterns at the festival
People waiting to launch their lantern
lanterns up close

I can’t thank the Water Lantern Festival enough for sponsoring us to attend this amazing festival. We really enjoyed the whole experience. I hope that you too can attend this festival in your area and see how awesome it really is.

many lanterns at the festival
Lots of lanterns

And then the video

Please leave a comment if you have attended a Water Lantern Festival and what your experience was. If you are looking for an event to attend please let me know and I will see if I can help you out.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sandi

    I live near Boston and have never gone to the Water Lantern Festival. It is beautiful, all those lights flickering away.

    1. Leeanne

      It was so beautiful to see all the lanterns on the pond.

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