As Renaissance Parks opens itself up as a venue for third-party events, I find myself thoroughly enjoying all of the opportunities it presents for outdoor entertainment. This year we had the return of the Lights, a lantern release ceremony that holds multiple concerts throughout the US. These festivals are a great opportunity for people to come together for something as simple as sending out a message of positivity and hope for the future. The result is a beautiful moment in time that is shared with thousands of others and yet something your family can take home for themselves.

Crowds gather for The Lights Fest 2021

This year was no different with over three thousand people in attendance, covering the parking lot outside the front gates with rows of ‘family’ camps next to the tiki torches they would later use to light their lanterns. Children were making friends quickly as they ran around the grass, waving light-up swords and shrieking in delight at the chance to play. Volunteer staff at the start of the event handed out biodegradable lanterns and markers, encouraging participants to write their messages to send out into the sky. Many folks wrote in memory of loved ones or in celebration of achievements. Some took the opportunity to create artworks on their rice paper canvas, and let me tell you there are some very talented people out there!

Pulled Pork Tacos from Mobile Chef

Food trucks lined the ridge at the top of the event, giving attendees plenty of options to fill their bellies. It was a very hot day so it came as no surprise for the shaved ice lines to be the longest. Everything smelled delicious and I really hope I get to see some of these businesses again because there just wasn’t enough time to try everything at once! I ended up at Mobile Chef World Fusion Cuisine for a double dose of soft-shelled tacos with some mandarin orange soda. The Belizian fried shrimp was very good but I could sing the praises of the Puerto Rican pulled pork with mango salsa! It was so delicious and the creamy avocado sauce paired really well with everything.

Kyng Azaiden-Idriz performs on stage.

The Lights is known for putting some very talented up-and-coming artists on the stage, and this year I was excited to get into the musical styling of Kyng Azaiden-Idriz. He had brought a lot of energy to the crowd, performing both cover songs and original compositions that gave people a reason to get up and dance. Kyng’s talent is an eclectic blend of soulful and pop that resonates with people and I’m happy I got a chance to hear him sing live.

As the sun began to set the festival coordinators let everyone know that they would be lighting a test lantern before the main event. The Lights takes their safety very seriously with fire department representatives in attendance to ensure standards are being met. Their lanterns are different from the typical store-bought ones as they are made from rice paper, bamboo and string. All of this helps to ensure the safety of the area and keep the lanterns within a retrievable distance when they descend. The clean-up crews spend the next day ensuring all of the lanterns have been gathered up and properly disposed of to return the area to its previous condition.

Lighting up the lanterns before release

When the moon was just starting to come up over the trees of the renaissance festival, it was finally time. They turned off the stage lights and everyone fluffed up their lanterns so they could get the fuel source lit. It requires a delicate touch to hold the paper up until the lantern is filled, but once it is you feel a small tug that lets you know it’s time to let go. Just like that, it’s up in the air, carrying all your worries and good wishes into the sky amid a dancing crowd of glowing lights. For a moment there is nothing else, and the world feels a bit softer.

After the final lantern had come down, the party wasn’t over yet! Dance contests and giveaways were held on stage, giving people the chance to hang around while the bulk of the crowd headed off for the night. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and I sincerely hope we will be hosting this event again in 2022.

Only two weeks left before the start of the Ohio Renaissance Festival! Don’t forget to grab your season passes and prepare for the return of faire. This is sure to be a busy year with new acts and big crowds so plan ahead to make the most of your weekends.

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It’s never too early for seasonal scares! Brimstone Haunt opens soon with frights for the whole family!