“Why,” I’ve been wondering since returning to Boston after traveling around the world, “do gorgeous public light displays like that not exist back home?” This month I finally figured out the answer: The pretty lights are here, but I’ve been too lazy to find them!
I learned this lesson just a few weeks ago, one cold night in Boston. My baby was playing with a hair clip (an educational toy, right?), and I was curled like a hedgehog the couch. Suddenly, my phone started vibrating repeatedly. “Are you coming to the Lantern Festival in Jamaica Plain?” friends were texting. “Argh.” I responded. “It’s too cold outside, and I’m lazy and cozy! (Colazy?)”
As the festival drew to a close, my friends’ texts grew more urgent. “The Lantern Festival almost over!” they text-screamed. “You need to see it!” At last I grumbled, threw on a hat, and strapped the baby to my chest to brave the New England chill. I arrived at Jamaica Pond with half an hour to spare.
As you can see from these photos, it was worth it to get off my couch. Though the wind and elapsed hours had extinguished some of the candles, dozens of colorful hand-made lanterns still winked from their strings. I admit to knowing nothing about the festival before I trotted over, so it was with curiosity that I peered closer, trying to figure out how the colorful lights were made.
It turns out that this beautiful lantern festival would be easy to re-create in your town with some simple crafting. The only materials needed to make the lanterns are: large plastic soda bottles cut in half, tissue paper, glue, and candles! The Jamaica Plain Lantern Festival also features live music, dancing, and hot apple cider, but if you start your own light festival in your town, methinks you could just put up the lanterns, play some recorded music, and people would still feel the joy. Does this seem like something you’d enjoy creating?
Walking home after the festival with my baby snoring softly on my chest, I chuckled at how I’d almost missed a great thing. We sally forth to all corners of the globe to see foreign festivals, but sometimes forget the ones we have right at home, or the art we can rally our community to create, ourselves!
What supplies are needed to make the lanterns?
- Colorful tissue paper! Click to check deals on Amazon and at Michael’s
- Inexpensive white candles or these great electric candles
- Simple craft glue and a paintbrush to apply it
- Sturdy scissors to cut the top off the bottles
- Craft wire and a hole puncher to make holes in the bottle for the wire handle
- 2 liter bottles: Click for Amazon Pantry delivery deals
Enjoy quirky local festivals? Check out this hilarious dogs-in-costumes fashion competition.
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