Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC – A Lighting Event You Should See


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Beneath the vast expanse of the evening sky, the National Harbor South Pointe transforms into a canvas of warmth and light. This is where the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC unfolds, a spectacle that draws hearts closer in a celebration of unity. 

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Festival highlights

It’s a time when the gentle waters become a mirror, reflecting the glow of countless lanterns, each carrying a whisper of hope, a message of love.

In the heart of Oxon Hill, Maryland, just a stone’s throw from the bustling life of the capital, an extraordinary gathering takes place annually. People from diverse backgrounds converge, sharing in a ritual that transcends mere festivity. Here, in the soft embrace of dusk, connections are forged, and the air is thick with the promise of peace and togetherness.

About the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC

The Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC is not just an event; it’s a festival of lights that tells a thousand stories. 

As the sun dips below the horizon, hundreds of lanterns begin their dance on the water’s surface, each one aglow with soft light. These are not mere lights;  but they are beacons of hope, love, and dreams.

Messages of love and inspiration adorn each lantern, written by attendees who pour their hearts into every word. The water becomes a tapestry of light, each lantern a pixel in a larger picture of communal hope and unity. It’s a breathtaking scene, where personal stories merge into a collective narrative of positivity.

As the night deepens, the luminous parade on the water grows, creating a spectacle that illuminates not just the harbor, but also the hearts of those who gather. This heartwarming event transcends the physical realm, fostering a sense of connection among all who participate. It’s a moment where the world seems to stand still, captivated by the simple yet profound act of sending lanterns adrift with wishes for the future.

Festival Dates

Traditionally, the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC graces the autumn calendar in October, marking a time of reflection and renewal. However, for the year 2024, the precise dates remain under wraps, leaving enthusiasts in eager anticipation. 

For those who wish to see the breathtaking sights of floating lanterns gracing the harbor, stay tuned for the latest updates, and be ready to mark your calendars for this unforgettable spectacle of light and unity.

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An image inspired by the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC is hosted at the picturesque National Harbor South Pointe, located at 802 National Harbor Blvd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745. Nestled just south of the bustling cityscape of Washington DC, this venue offers a serene backdrop for the festival’s luminous display, creating a perfect harmony between the urban and the tranquil.

The nearest airport to the festival location is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which is approximately 8 miles away, making it a convenient gateway for those flying in. Travelers have several options to reach the festival from the airport:

  • Taxi or Ride-Sharing Services: A direct and hassle-free way to get to National Harbor.
  • Public Transportation: Utilize the Metro system to a nearby station and then take a connecting bus or shuttle to National Harbor.
  • Car Rental: For those preferring their own vehicle to explore the area at their leisure.

For visitors coming from other cities by train, the guidelines below can help navigate the journey to the festival:

  • Arrive at Union Station in Washington DC, the main hub for trains entering the city.
  • From Union Station, take the Metro’s Green Line towards Branch Ave.
  • Exit the Metro at the Branch Ave Station.
  • Transfer to a local bus or shuttle service that goes directly to National Harbor.
  • Alternatively, taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available at Union Station for a direct trip to the festival location.

If you liked this lantern festival, you might also want to check out these other captivating water lantern festivals as well:

Water Lantern Festival Utah

Full Moon Lantern Festival

Festival Hours

The Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in a radiant experience from 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM. This window allows attendees to witness the transformation of day into night, as lanterns light up the water under the fading evening sky. It’s an ideal timeframe to not only partake in the lantern release but also to enjoy the ambiance as the lanterns glow against the backdrop of the night, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

How Much Does It Cost to See The Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC

As the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC gears up for its 2024 iteration, attendees are on the edge of their seats, awaiting the announcement of ticket prices. The organizers are currently finalizing the details, promising to offer a range of options to cater to everyone’s needs. Rest assured, the anticipation is building for what’s expected to be an unforgettable experience, with pricing information to be released in the future.

Reflecting on the previous year, the 2023 festival set a precedent for affordability and inclusivity. Adults aged 15 and over could participate for a starting price of $26.98, while children between 8 to 14 years were welcomed at a minimal cost of $12.45, making it a family-friendly affair. The festival also extended its warmth to the youngest attendees, offering free entry for those aged 0 to 7, albeit without a lantern kit, ensuring everyone had the chance to be part of the magic.

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An image inspired by the captivating beauty of the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC

Weather and What to Wear

October in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where the Floating Lantern Festival is held, typically features crisp autumn weather. Temperatures during this month can range from a cool 50°F (10°C) in the evenings to a more comfortable 68°F (20°C) during the day. This transitional weather captures the essence of fall, with the potential for both sunny days and cooler nights, making it a picturesque time for the festival.

For those planning to attend the Floating Lantern Festival, dressing appropriately will enhance the experience. Here are some recommended clothing options:

  • Layered Clothing: Start with a base layer and add a sweater or fleece, as temperatures can drop, especially by the water.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Opt for sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking and standing for extended periods.
  • Light Jacket or Windbreaker: Ideal for the evening when it gets cooler, especially near the water.
  • Scarf and Hat: These can offer additional warmth if the night turns chilly.
  • Water-Resistant Clothing: In case of a light October drizzle, having a water-resistant outer layer can keep you dry and comfortable.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

For those attending the Floating Lantern Festival and looking for convenient accommodations, there are several hotels nearby that cater to a range of preferences and budgets.

Red Roof PLUS+ Washington, DC – Oxon Hill

  • Location: 6170 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: A budget-friendly 2-star hotel offering comfortable and straightforward accommodations.
  • Amenities:
    • Free Wi-Fi, ensuring you stay connected.
    • Free parking, adding convenience for those traveling by car.

Comfort Inn

  • Location: 6363 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: This 2-star hotel provides cozy lodging with easy access to local attractions.
  • Amenities:
    • Complimentary breakfast, a great start to your day.
    • Free parking, making your stay hassle-free.

Harborside Hotel

  • Location: 6400 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: A 2-star hotel that combines comfort with convenience, ideally situated for festival-goers.
  • Amenities:
    • Free Wi-Fi, perfect for planning your festival itinerary.
    • On-site restaurant, offering convenient dining options.

Where to Eat

For attendees of the Floating Lantern Festival looking to savor local flavors, there are several dining options in the vicinity catering to a variety of tastes.


  • Location: 6171 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: A well-known breakfast restaurant chain, IHOP is famous for its wide selection of pancakes and American breakfast and diner fare.
  • Foods Served:
    • A variety of pancakes
    • American breakfast items
    • Vegetarian dishes

Mid Atlantic Seafood

  • Location: 6045 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: A seafood restaurant known for its fresh offerings, Mid Atlantic Seafood serves a delicious array of grilled seafood, alongside other favorites like chicken barbecue and pork ribs.
  • Foods Served:
    • Grilled seafood
    • Chicken barbecue
    • Pork ribs

Outback Steakhouse

  • Location: 6091 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: This Australian-themed chain is a go-to for those craving steaks, seafood, and other hearty fare, complete with a sports-friendly atmosphere during happy hour.
  • Foods Served:
    • Steaks
    • Seafood
    • Happy hour food
    • Vegetarian options

More Things to Do in the Area

Exploring the area around the Floating Lantern Festival reveals a treasure trove of additional attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.

Captain White Seafood City

  • Location: 6308 Livingston Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: A historic seafood market in operation since 1805, offering a vast selection of raw and cooked seafood from numerous vendors along the waterfront.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Seafood shopping from a variety of vendors
    • Sampling cooked seafood delicacies
    • Enjoying the waterfront ambiance

Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm

  • Location: 6411 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
  • Description: This national historic district features a living farm museum operated by the National Park Service, offering a glimpse into the area’s agricultural past.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Touring the farm museum
    • Participating in educational programs
    • Exploring hiking trails and scenic views

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge

  • Location: Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, Fort Washington, MD 20744, United States
  • Description: A significant bascule bridge that spans the Potomac River, connecting Alexandria, Virginia, and Oxon Hill, Maryland, offering picturesque views and a slice of regional history.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Walking or cycling across the bridge
    • Enjoying panoramic views of the Potomac River
    • Observing the bridge’s engineering and architectural features

An Illuminating Finale: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC

The Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC is a captivating event that beautifully marries tradition with communal spirit. Set against the serene backdrop of the National Harbor, it invites people from all walks of life to share in a moment of peace, reflection, and connection. 

With lanterns gliding over the water, carrying messages of hope and love, the festival creates a tapestry of light that illuminates the night sky. It’s an unforgettable experience that echoes the enduring human desires for unity and harmony.


Is there parking available at the Floating Lantern Festival?

Yes, there are parking facilities available near the festival location at National Harbor. However, spaces can fill up quickly due to the popularity of the event, so it’s recommended to arrive early or consider alternative transportation options.

Can I bring my own lantern to the Floating Lantern Festival?

The festival typically provides specially designed lanterns as part of the registration package to ensure safety and environmental compliance. Personal lanterns may not be permitted, so it’s best to check the event’s official guidelines.

Are pets allowed at the Floating Lantern Festival?

Policies on pets can vary, so it’s advisable to consult the festival’s official information. Service animals are usually allowed, but it might not be suitable for pets due to the crowd and nature of the event.

Is smoking permitted at the festival site?

Smoking is generally discouraged at public gatherings like the Floating Lantern Festival to ensure a comfortable environment for all attendees. Specific smoking areas may be designated, so please adhere to posted signs and guidelines.

Are there food and drinks available for purchase at the festival?

Yes, there are typically a variety of food vendors and concession stands offering a range of food and beverage options to cater to different tastes and dietary needs.

What should I wear to the Floating Lantern Festival?

Comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing is recommended. Since the event takes place in October, it’s wise to dress in layers to adjust to the changing temperatures from day to evening.

Can children attend the Floating Lantern Festival?

Absolutely! The Floating Lantern Festival is a family-friendly event. There are often activities and areas designed for children, making it a wonderful experience for attendees of all ages.

What happens in case of bad weather?

The festival usually goes ahead rain or shine, with some exceptions for extreme weather conditions. It’s a good idea to check the event’s official communication channels for updates and potential changes due to weather.

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An image inspired from the Floating Lantern Festival Washington DC




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