Celebrate life, love and good fortune in Casa Grande on Friday, Nov. 11 at the annual Lantern Fest, where thousands of people join together to release lanterns into the night sky.
The event kickstarts just before sundown. Friends and families huddle around campfires in the middle of the desert to keep warm and enjoy food, live music, a stage show, face painting, s'mores, balloon artists and more.
Historically, lanterns have been used to symbolize good fortune, request favorable weather, or to celebrate the life of a loved one—just to name a few. The creators of the festival, Sack Lunch Productions, refer to the release of these lanterns as a metaphor for "our highest hopes, deepest regrets and fondest dreams."
The atmosphere is unlike anything else. Everyone at is smiling, hugging, talking and truly taking in every moment. When the sky is completely dark, you'll watch everyone release their beautiful, yellow lanterns up into the sky and soak in the experience together. As the lights float on into the darkness, they begin to look like tiny stars. Then, everyone sits in silence and soaks up the beauty before them.
The Lantern Fest is also a place people go to find comfort in tragedies and sicknesses, reconnect with loved ones who have passed away, have a romantic evening with their significant other or to escape from reality and bask in the true beauty of life with their best friends. The experience is exactly what you make of it.
The festival also serves a very meaningful purpose: Sustainability, safety and helping the environment. According to the website, many local authorities around the country banned the private use of lanterns for the same reason they do not allow people to light fireworks from their homes. This event was created to find another way to create a safe, controlled environment where people can come together and experience these lights.
After the festival comes to an end, the "Lantern Chasers" go out and collect 90 percent of the fallen lanterns—which are also completely biodegradable and disintegrate after a few rain showers.
The festival will be held at the Pinal Fairgrounds this year (512 N. 11 Mile Corner Road, Casa Grande) and tickets are available here for a limited time.