Arts and Culture

The Lantern Festival Is Coming to Metro Denver in April

Let there be light!  The inaugural Lantern Festival in Denver will illuminate Front Range skies with a two-night event in late April that's a traditional Chinese lantern send-off, but with a Mile High twist. The festival will be lifting off April 23 and April 24 from the Colorado National Speedway — which is technically in Dacono, but the closest the fest has ever come to metro Denver.

We caught up with Amy Gessel of Salt Lake City-based Sack Lunch Productions, the company that owns the Lantern Fest (among other super-wild and family-oriented events, including Slide the City, Color Me Rad and The Dirty Dash) to find out what's in the lantern-fest survival package — a lantern, a marker, a lighter and a s'mores kit — as well as why the festival is coming to Denver.
Westword: Has this type of lantern festival ever been to Denver before?
Amy Gessel: We've had multiple events in Colorado Springs since the event began in 2014, but this will be our first Denver event.

What does the lantern symbolize?

Historically, Chinese lanterns have been used to symbolize good fortune, request favorable weather and celebrate the lives of loved ones. But the best part about this event is that the participants can determine the meaning behind their lantern. Some people use their lantern to represent letting go of the past, turning over a new leaf, remember a loved one, reach for their hopes and dreams.
What can attendees expect? Is it a classical Chinese ceremony or is there any sort of Mile High twist to the event (besides s'mores)?

We have transformed the tradition into a family-friendly event. When participants check in — the gates open as early as 3 p.m. — they will find balloon artists, face painters, inflatables, a stage show, live music, local vendors and more. Then when the sun goes down, they will experience the unforgettable lantern release. 

Sustainability is important to you, and we know that the lanterns are decomposable, but the million-dollar question is: What if it lands while still on fire?

The fuel cells of sky lanterns have a very short burn time. Like a hot air balloon, they will only come down when that fuel cell has completely burned out. There's no way they will return to the ground until that cell has burned out.

Tickets for Lantern Fest begin at $30; kids ages four to twelve are only $5 while kids under three are  free. The inaugural Lantern Fest of Denver will be at the Colorado National Speedway at 4281 County Road 10, Dacono, from April 23-24.