Tips and Review of Utah Lantern Festival

The Lantern Fest is something everyone should experience at least once in their life! They travel to different states hosting a lantern ceremony!
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The Lantern Fest is my favorite event in Utah! Want to feel like you are living a fairy tale? Then you need to go to the Lantern Festival! (Tip: Use the promo code ROOKIE20 to get 20% off your tickets this August!) 

I went to the Lantern Fest in Utah last Apriland again in August and it was absolutely stunning! Lantern Fest gave us tickets, but I am writing this review simply because I loved it (I was not told to and I am not getting paid).

Honestly, I liked it so much that I am considering making it a yearly tradition. These notes are for my own future reference and for anyone attending the Lantern Fest in Utah. So without further ado…

5 Tips for Attending the Lantern Fest in Utah:

  1. What to Expect at the Event:
      • Live music (it is pretty loud so don’t sit right next to a speaker)
      • Pre-show games and contests on stage
      • Group fire-pits scattered around the grounds (you will be sharing)
      • Parking fills up! Bring $5 for parking and try to arrive at least an hour and a half before sunset
      • One lantern, s’mores kit, lighter and marker (for decorating your lantern) per person
      • If you send a quick email to a state senator (saying how much you love the Lantern Fest) you get a second lantern for free
      • You can buy Lantern Fest sweaters ($30) and shirts ($15) at the event
      • Port-o-potties available on site
      • Bouncy houses for kids
      • Food-trucks on site (Waffle Love, Firebrick Oven, etc.) – the lines are long
      • Lantern launch is just after sunset normally, but could be moved to later depending on weather conditions
      • No coolers with drinks are allowed (I saw a lot of people carting these all the way back to their car)
      • If you are cold, light the complimentary fire log whenever (they last well beyond the end of the Lantern Fest)
    • Stay for the fire dancers after the lantern ceremony 

FullSizeRender (2)2. What to Bring:

      • Camping chairs to sit on (not blankets – you are on gravel)
      • Bring wet-wipes for s’mores fingers
      • Bring your own lighter for an easier time lighting the lantern
      • Bring cash! They charge $5 for parking and also have food trucks on site
      • In April it was pretty dang cold with the wind! Dress in layers and dress for warmth! Most people underestimated how cold it could get and ended up buying the Lantern Fest hoodie for extra warmth (ahem, see what I am wearing in that photo above). If you are cold, light the fire (they last well beyond the end of the event). Don’t wear anything you won’t mind smelling smoky!
    • In August the weather was perfect and we didn’t need more than a light jacket as the evening wore on. 

3. Tips for Traveling:

If you are attending the Lantern Festival in Utah, the drive is about 30-40 minutes from Salt Lake City. When you are about two miles away and about to turn left, you may see a super long traffic jam that is inching along. To avoid this (listen up) do not turn on that road! Keep going and loop back towards the event from the opposite side! (See map below for what I mean.) This will ensure you skip the jam (hopefully) entirely!


When you are leaving the Lantern Fest, I suggest sticking around to watch the fire dancers. This will give the parking-lot time to clear out a bit.

4. Lantern Fest with Kids: I brought my toddler to the Lantern Fest (a little worried that she would get bored) and it went pretty smoothly. If you are toting littles to the fest then consider the following:

      • They have a bouncy house obstacle courses for the older kids
      • Again, bring wet wipes for s’mores fingers
      • Pick a fire pit with people who also have a kid your age (they will entertain each other)
      • Watch out for stray lanterns around your kids during the launch (mislaunches). I saw quite a few people get hit in the head with a lit lantern and was a bit apprehensive for my toddler. Just keep your eyes out for stray lanterns during the lantern ceremony.
      • Again, stay for the fire dancers while the parking lot empties a bit
      • A stroller would be helpful to cart your chairs and gear from the parking lot
      • April was cold and I am glad I bundled Riley up in her winter gear for the biting wind. I bet August will be a lot better, but just in case…bring layers for your little one!
    • I brought Tangled along in the portable DVD player for the drive to-and-from the Lantern Fest (for those traffic jams)
Photo credit: Lantern Fest (obviously)

5. Photography Tips: My nighttime photography skills are nonexistent. If you are like me, then my best tip for snagging a good photo at the Lantern Fest is taking your photo as you are holding your lantern (before you release it). The light from the lantern will light up your face just enough for a cool shot! (Also make sure you have at least two people holding the lantern – it makes launching it a lot easier.)

If you are an amateur like me…don’t stress too much. It was impossible for me to get a picture of how absolutely stunning it was. I wish I had spent less time stressing about the photos and more time just enjoying the view with my own two eyes. I wouldn’t even take photos at the beginning of the launch (since that is the most magical part). Every group has multiple lanterns and the next twenty minutes will be filled with great photo opportunities.

Now, I know what you are thinking: Can I view the Lantern Fest from outside the event?

I wondered the same thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any cool spots to watch the launch outside of the event. It is purposefully placed “out there” to avoid fire risks. The closest town is pretty far and I can’t imagine the lanterns being more than little specs in the distance from there. So fork out the dough for your ticket! I think the early bird price at $25 is very worth it.

The earlier you buy your tickets, the cheaper it will be! This is something everyone should go to at least once in their life (maybe even once a year)! 


Note on Lantern Fest Fire Safety: “In addition to adhering to all local safety and permitting requirements, here are some of the precautions we take to go the extra mile:

Our lanterns are exclusively sourced for The Lantern Fest, made with 100 percent biodegradable rice paper, bamboo and string. Our staff has been fully trained to effectively collect the lanterns launched during our event.”  For more info go here.