What do these things have in common—mouth-watering food, delighted shrieks from scrambling kids, music that has everyone dancing and water lanterns? A logical answer might be nothing. That is unless you participate in the Water Lantern Festival.
Lucky for those living in San Jose and the surrounding area, the Water Lantern Festival is coming to the Almaden Lake Park (6099 Winfield Blvd.) on Oct. 5. This celebration is an unforgettable night of connection. It is a family and environmentally friendly party at the water’s edge that invites creativity, imagination and fun.
Family, friends and other visitors gather by the water from 4pm. They bring chairs and blankets and are welcome to bring their own snacks, food and drinks. Food can also be purchased from the many onsite food trucks.
Soon after entering, participants quickly savor the wafting smells of scrumptious BBQ, spicy Asian food, sweet cotton candy, funnel cakes and other yummy choices. Vendors offer a wide variety of unusual and handcrafted items.
What makes the Water Lantern Festival so unique is the main event—making and floating water lanterns. The entrance fee provides each participant with a brightly colored backpack that has instructions and materials to create a custom-designed water lantern.
The backpack includes a four-sided folded square of paper, colored markers, wood plate, four sticks and a small light. Everyone goes at it!
Adults and kids decorate each paper square using the markers and their imagination. Sticks are placed in the circular insert points at the corners of the wood square, the small light is put the center of the wood, then the decorated paper is placed over the sticks. Presto! Instant water lantern that represents inspiration, sentiments, hopes and dreams.
Creating a lantern is just part of the memorable experience. The sun starts to set and the sky transforms to orange and pink, adding shimmery reflections on the water. When dusk arrives the musicians invite everyone to bring the lanterns to the water.
Just before the launch about 7:30pm, all join in a communal experience to celebrate life. Then the creations are slipped into the water. Everyone watches as their lantern joins thousands of others. The group experiences a magical glow as the lanterns flicker on the water and take over the darkening sky.
The price of the event covers the cost of collecting the lanterns from the water at the conclusion and removing any leftover trash.
Those who want to attend are encouraged to buy tickets early since events do sell out. The lowest ticket price is $30 for adults and $16 for youth, aged 8 to 14, plus taxes and fees. Some special discounts are available.
Organizers are also seeking volunteers, vendors and sponsors. It may be worthwhile to carpool and reserve parking in the area or take public transportation. For friends not near this location, festivals are scheduled or planned in 12 U.S. cities, Canada and Mexico, with more being added.
Check out all the details at waterlanternfestival.com/sanjose.php.
Anne Lieberman Matchett serves as a creative marketing executive with experience in Fortune class, medium size and start up organizations and owner of NetGrowth, a marketing communications company. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].