Highlighting the Water Lantern Festival 

By Maya Faulds

Picture a calm lake, shrouded in darkness. Now, envision this peaceful lake filled with hundreds of bright and glowing cubes, each with the wishes, hopes, and dreams of strangers. 

That is the scene and main event for the Water Lantern Festival. The Water Lantern Festival promises its attendees to “cherish these moments and we will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget.”

The Water Lantern Festival, a traveling event that recently visited Jersey City, is a unique event that contains music, food, and a Lantern Launch. I was fortunate enough to secure a ticket for this event that had sold out weeks before the weekend of the event. 

I arrived at Liberty State Park station from the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Festival buses were gathering eager attendees, including myself, to drive us. The bus drop-off point was only a short stroll to the Water Festival Booths. On this stroll, an extravagant proposal set up hinted at the vulnerability people would exhibit over the course of the night.

In order to further engage the community, the Water Lantern Festival welcomed vendors from Jersey City and neighboring places like Yankee Doodle Dandy’s, NYC’s Mac Truck, Crepes Your Way, Carvel, The Original Caribbean King, Gary’s Steaks, C Bao Asian Buns, Amazigh Food Truck, The Main Lobster, Sweet Concessions, Carinderia, The Little Sicilian Riceballs, Goofy Gofry, Ma and Pa’s Tex-Mex BBQ, The Chippery, Meatoss Street Grill, Cousins Maine LobsterThey also had non-food vendors like Autumn August, B. Baths, Chaconia Candles, Grateful for Life, Henna Squad, Nacklies, and The Thirsty Baker.

Two talented singers, Anna May and Sarah Lightman, graced the event with their performances on a lit-up stage. May is a Connecticut-born Alternative tragic Americana singer. Lightman is a New Jersey-born recording artist and singer-songwriter. Both helped create a relaxing and soulful atmosphere. 

Drawstring bags were distributed from the last booth (I got a teal one). The lanterns were made of a wooden base, rice paper to decorate, and four wooden sticks to create a cube with one LED light to place in the middle. The bags also came with playing cards and a card deck of affirmations. 

The kickoff of the lanterns happened at 7 p.m. During this phase, the DJ guided his listeners through affirmations to further create an immersive experience. I heard star-themed songs such as “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay and “I See the Light” by Mandy Moore filling in the background to this event. 

One of the pillars of the Water Lantern Festival was its unwavering commitment to sustainability. The lanterns were crafted of wood and rice paper in a 100% eco-friendly manner. The water used for launching lanterns was cordoned off, making it easier and less time-consuming for the volunteers to gather the lanterns at the end and prevent them from littering the water. Water Lantern Festival adheres to the “leave no waste behind” philosophy. Even the LED lights from each lantern are collected and reused for future festivals. 

While the Water Lantern Festival is a for-profit event, it remains dedicated to supporting meaningful causes with Water.org as the main benefactor of the weekend. Their mission is to provide safe water to millions of people around the world.

The Water Lantern earned #1 by USA Today by People’s Choice, a testament to its universal appeal.

For those who want to create memories with loved ones, whether family, friends, or a partner, I recommend this event. However, it’s worth mentioning that attending alone can be also meaningful, offering an opportunity to connect with strangers or embark on a more introspective journey. 

The Water Lantern Festival plans to come back next year so if this sounds like an event you would be interested in, go and you won’t regret it!

Maya Faulds
Author: Maya Faulds