Honolulu Wedding Photographer | My Experience at Hawaii's Annual Lantern Floating Festival | Personal - Vanessa Hicks Photography

Honolulu Wedding Photographer | My Experience at Hawaii’s Annual Lantern Floating Festival | Personal

Aloha Hawai'i!

On Memorial Day, my daughters and I visited Hawaii’s Annual Lantern Festival. 

Held annually on Memorial Day on Oʻahu’s south shore, Lantern Floating Hawaii brings together an estimated 50,000 people on the beach, joined by thousands around the world via live streaming and telecast for an evening of honoring loved ones and generating collective hope toward the future.

I had heard of the lantern festival from friends and I had seen the images and I knew I wanted to go and really capture some amazing shots. That was my goal, or so I thought!

After fighting traffic, I was able to get in line and get a lantern. I thought this would be amazing to send one off for my dad, who will have passed away 13 years ago next month.

Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival

I filled out my lantern and the girls and I went and played at the beach.

I sat there all day with my lantern knowing I was going to release it in the water. I hadn’t had any emotional ties to it, even though I had written it for my dad.
As it got darker, and the ceremony continued, I was more worried about the crowd size and making sure the girls were near me.
When it became time to release the lanterns into the ocean, mine was lighted by someone and I waited in line for the right moment to release mine.
I’m not sure how long I stood there, but I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I looked up to see a man crying. And he asked me if I was ok.
It was then I realized there were tears streaming down my face.
I finally took a breath and released my lantern to the ocean. And all of a sudden, this incredibly light lantern felt heavy in my hand.
As I let the lantern dedicated to my dad go, I watched it and took some pictures. And, while I watched all the other lanterns float to the hori

zon, I watched my Dad’s literally make a U-turn and headed straight back to me.
I had to get in the water waist deep to push it back out, and I couldn’t help but smile. I couldn’t help but think of the card that sits on my desk, with his writing, written when I left for boot camp, about a year before his death, that said “You are not alone. Love Dad.” Lantern Floating Festival

It was an amazing experience and quite emotional for me! I didn’t get as many pictures as I wanted to as I was taken over by emotions and couldn’t keep the tears from falling into my viewfinder! Check out these amazing shots I got and I am looking forward to going back next year. Not sure if I will float a lantern again, but we shall see!Hawaii Lantern Floating FestivalHawaii Lantern Floating FestivalHawaii Lantern Floating FestivalHawaii Lantern Floating FestivalHawaii Lantern Floating Festival

If you are ever in Hawaii during Memorial Day Weekend, this is a must see!

Have you been the the lantern festival?

  1. Chelsea

    May 31st, 2017 at 0

    I have read your story a few times and it moves me everytime. I too lost my dad 13 years ago. I more than appreciate this blog. #keepwriting


  2. Hannah Q.

    May 31st, 2017 at 0

    Ugh, I just loved this post, your story, and these photos so much. I felt every word. I used to live in Hawaii for three years when I was stationed there and we went to the lantern festival every year without fail. An eventful memory that I will always cherish.

  3. Quianna Marie

    May 31st, 2017 at 0

    SO much love and hope in one blog post! What a beautiful celebration of love, life and sacrifice. Sending love and hugs to you and your family!

  4. Arlene Marston

    May 31st, 2017 at 0

    This is so beautiful! I lost my dad when I was 17 and now I’m 39 and still miss him like crazy. You’re so lucky to have that note from him. I hope it brings you warmth and smiles when the days are tough and lonely. Aloha.

  5. Francesca K

    May 31st, 2017 at 0

    These photos are gorgeous! I’ve visited Oahu, but have never heard of this festival. It sounds (and looks) like such a special experience.

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