The Water Lantern Festival Encourages Community Connection

The Water Lantern Festival is making its return for the fifth year in a row. On Saturday, June 3, the fair style event will have family friendly activities occurring throughout the course of the night at Martindale Beach, 4570 Huron River Pkwy

With live local performing artists, yard games, local food vendors, and lantern decorating, the festival is designed for people of all ages to have fun as a community and create life-long memories.

Described by Water Lantern Festival Community Outreach Coordinator Hayden Earl as, “a big ole’ barbeque,” the 2023 festival is more tailored to community building than ever before.

A scavenger hunt designed to motivate attendees to meet their neighbors is set to take place. Goodie bags featuring conversation starting cards are also handed out upon arrival.

“Especially with covid taking away the social aspect of our lives, we have put a much heavier emphasis on creating a community connection, rather than just a visual spectacle,” Earl said.

It’s recommended when decorating a lantern to set an intention with it. Many people decide to honor and remember passed loved ones, while others use it as an opportunity to let go of things that no longer serve them. Some people even decorate their lantern as a goal or wish of what they hope for the future.

“If you come with an intention of what you want your lantern to signify and what you want to design it as, it’s a lot more impactful,” Earl said. “Find a really good intention and permeate on that.”

Prior to the lantern launch, a group mediation will occur. During this part of the night, people go on stage and share the significance of their lantern and why they chose to decorate it the way they did.

“It gets pretty emotional and there’s cool stories, so I think that’s what I’m the most excited about,” Earl said.

Water Lantern Festival also has a sustainability initiative. The lanterns are made from rice paper and wood, making them eco-friendly. LED candles are also reused and recycled. After the event, staff members clean up all of the lanterns and trash around the water.

Proceeds from each event are donated to, the festival’s charity partner. is a global nonprofit working to provide safe water and sanitation to people across the world. Co-founded by Matt Damon in 2009, has successfully supplied that to more than 55 million people in 17 countries.

“It’s been really cool to be part of a small company that’s still taking big company action as far as sustainability,” Earl said. “I think it’s really important to take care of where you’re living and we’re just trying to pull our weight in that fight.”

The festival will take place from 6-10 p.m, with the lantern launch occurring after sunset. Those interested in seeing the magic of thousands of lantern lights reflecting on Kent Lake and leaving with a newfound sense of community can purchase tickets at