Lanterns marked with messages of hope will float into the night sky again this weekend at the sixth annual RiSE Las Vegas festival. But festivalgoers this year will notice a few changes spurred by the weather-related cancellation of the final day of the two-day 2018 event.
Among the changes are shorter walks from security to the venue, ticket policy changes, and most notably, the extra festival day. The festival in the past was typically held on Friday and Saturday.
The three-day event this year is expected to host nearly 25,000 people from Friday through Sunday at the Jean Dry Lake Bed, south of Las Vegas.
RiSE Festival co-founder Dan Hill said the third day was added to accommodate last year’s ticket holders, who were unable to launch lanterns on the final day after the event was canceled due to bad weather. Next year, he said, the event will return to its two-day format.
“We had a storm roll in right before the release portion of the event so we rain checked the event for those people. … That’s why it’s a three-day event, so they get the experience they didn’t have last year,” Hill said. “It was just very heartbreaking that people didn’t get to have the really special part of the event, and we wanted to make sure they got that opportunity.”
Last year, organizers canceled the event about a half-hour before the first release of lanterns, citing lightning and rain moving into the area. Participants, some who traveled from out of state, took to social media to share their frustration.
It was a learning experience for the team and helped inform how it approached this year’s festival, Hill said.
In prior years, the event offered refundable and non-refundable tickets but now, all of its tickets are fully refundable if the entire event is canceled. Half is refundable if only the lantern release portion is canceled.
Ticket prices are $69 for children and up to $119 for adults. Nevada residents with a valid ID can receive a discounted price of $79 for Sunday.
Festivalgoers unable to launch their lanterns because of the early cancellation of 2018’s Saturday event can attend Friday or Saturday for a discounted rate or on Sunday at no cost.
“We learned communication needs to be better around weather so we’ve been sending weather updates throughout the week … and getting updates throughout the night,” Hill said.
It also worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Land Management to move its lantern release time earlier by an extra hour, allowing it to run from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. this weekend.
‘Simple and beautiful’
Prior to the first lantern release at about 7:15 p.m. each evening, festivalgoers will be able to see live performances from artists Agina, EXES, Zack Gray and Ry X.
Marketplaces featuring food trucks have also been consolidated to two locations where visitors can expect as many as 10 food trucks in each marketplace as well as more seating.
“RiSE is all about the people and what’s going on inside of them … so the music selection I think is fantastic,” Hill said. “We’re really trying to keep it simple and beautiful.”
Keeping a festival simple might seem like it would make it more difficult to get people to come back, but Hill said RiSE has become a place for attendees to reflect. Messages on lanterns vary, from missives to loved ones who have died, goal-setting resolutions and notes to celebrate events from the past year.
“RiSE means something different to every person, and I think it means something different every year to every person,” Hill said. “People keep coming back because there’s always something they want to heal from, there’s always something they want to celebrate, and we found that’s really what they come back for.”
Hill, who said he got the idea for the festival after a sky lantern launch he witnessed in Thailand, plans to host more festivals in other parts of the world. It expects to host a RiSE Dubai festival in December and one in Australia next spring.
“We have a handful of countries that we’re in various stages of permitting and conversations,” he said. “We want to create a space where people can come (together). It feels really beautiful for us to provide that to different cultures and different religions all over the world where we can come together and vibe.”
For more information on the three-day event, visit risefestival.com.