The girls and I went to the RISE Festival in the Mojave Desert this weekend. It was a surreal, emotional and uplifting experience. The festival’s origins are from Thailand’s Lantern Festival called Loi Krathong. The intent is to set all your problems and worries free. It’s a symbol of new beginnings. It’s exactly what the girls and I needed.
I’ve been wanting to go to the festival for the past few years. Either here or in Thailand this type of event was on my bucket list. When a friend suggested a group of us go, I thought the timing was right with the girls now being 10 and 6 years old. We rented a house outside of Las Vegas and 9 of us had an incredible time. I loved that we were a multigenerational, multicultural and multigender-oriented gathering. We had the girls and every decade present from 20-something to 60-something. With little to no family out here in Los Angeles these gatherings are very special to us.
Now that we’ve been to the event I understand why you can’t bring blankets, chairs, coolers or much of anything. The less clutter the better! They offer little instructions on lighting a lantern. Almost everyone is a novice and so at first lanterns were floating horizontally, skimming people’s heads and coming back down. A friend told shared the trick. Keep the lantern close to the ground while it fills with hot air. When you feel it start tugging upwards, you can let it free.
My youngest had a lantern skim her head. After that she was afraid of catching fire, rightfully so. I was afraid a lantern would either land on my girls or my camera gear and it would all catch fire! Luckily everyone was safe and ok. The second official release was much smoother for us and everyone around. I still ran after one of our lanterns and ran over someone’s drink by accident. I wasn’t the only one running over things.
Aside from that it was a magical experience! Thousands of lanterns taking flight at once. All those fears and problems going away from a collective group was emotional. My girls wrote down wishes and intentions on their lanterns. P was very moved watching them go up into the sky to God, her grandfather and her dog who passed when she was 2.5.
There’s something about the desert at high noon, sunset and in the black of night. Each time of day offers different feelings. It makes you think about a million things. It makes you connect dots and disconnect others. It’s crazy! And scary at the same time so as a mother of two young girls I was happy to experience the landscape with company and not isolated.
We will definitely return to RISE. And hopefully our group will be as amazing again. The girls talked about it all weekend. Next time I’d love to add a show in Vegas, take time to star gaze and maybe see the Hoover Dam since it’s the Percy Jackson books which my oldest loves. It was a life changing event.