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Port Washington lantern festival will light up the harbor

Lanterns carry the hopes, dreams, and prayers of

Lanterns carry the hopes, dreams, and prayers of participants in the Water Lantern Festival on Aug. 4 at National Harbor in Maryland. Credit: Jacklin Kido

The first Long Island Water Lantern Festival, a celebration of community planned this month in Port Washington, promises a night of food, fun, music — and, of course, lights.

The family-friendly event on Aug. 25 will feature local vendors, and the experience of designing personalized lanterns that will be set aglow and released into the harbor at sunset. And the evening should provide plenty of fodder for social media.

“Some people write hopes, inspirational quotes or things they are planning in the future,” says Joey McKnight, organizer with Utah-based First World, the for-profit sponsor of the event. “Anything can be written on the lanterns, and it’s really cool to see how different they are.”


Each paid entrant receives an LED flashlight, a floating water lantern made of wood and rice paper and a marker.   Food trucks, such as Gary’s Steaks, Absolute Greek, All American Wontons, Kona Ice and Crepes Truck, will be available. And festivalgoers can enjoy face painting, too. . 

The festival, which launched this year, comes to more than 50 sites across the United States, including Washington, D.C.; Texas; Washington state and Nevada. The original idea for the festival was to have lanterns float in the sky, which is an Asian tradition. But using calm waters was a better option, McKnight says.

McKnight, who says he expects about 3,000 people to attend, found Port Washington to be a prime location for the event because of its calm waters, open space and tight-knit community. During the event, there will be time dedicated to decorating lanterns.

Participants will then be able to push their lanterns into the water and experience the soft glow reflecting from the light on the water. “It’s super-pretty,” McKnight says.

“We want to create a space where people can come together and celebrate the community,” McKnight says. “Lanterns are beautiful, and it’s something to bond over.” 

The lanterns are made of eco-friendly materials and there’s a cleanup after the event.

Long Island Water Lantern Festival

WHEN | WHERE 5-10 p.m.  Aug. 25, North Hempstead Beach Park's Bar Beach, 175 W. Shore Rd., Port Washington

INFO $30-$40; no alcohol or pets; advance tickets at

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