Lexington Water Lantern Festival – A Must-See Lighting Event


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Experience the magical glow of the Lexington Water Lantern Festival, where thousands of lights dance on the waters of Lexington, Kentucky.

Lexington water lantern main
Festival highlights

About the Lexington Water Lantern Festival

Drawing inspiration from traditional Asian water lantern festivals, the Lexington Water Lantern Festival is a spectacular celebration of light and unity. Each lantern floated on the water symbolizes a dream, a memory, or a wish for peace, casting a soft glow that ripples across the lake. This magical event brings the community together, creating a collective experience of hope and reflection that resonates with all who attend.

In addition to the mesmerizing sight of water lanterns adrift, the festival offers a variety of activities that enhance the evening. Participants can personalize their lanterns at the designing station, adding their own touch to the lights that will float into the dusk. The air is filled with music from live bands, providing a vibrant soundtrack to an evening of creativity and community spirit.

The festival atmosphere is further enlivened by an array of local food trucks, offering delicious eats that cater to every taste. From savory to sweet, the food options ensure that attendees can make the most of their festival experience with a treat in hand. It’s an unforgettable gathering that appeals to individuals and families alike, making it a perfect outing for anyone looking to enjoy a night under the stars.

Festival Dates (2024)

Circle September 7, 2024, on your calendar for a magical night at the Lexington Water Lantern Festival. This one-day event is a mesmerizing celebration where attendees set lanterns afloat, each glowing with hopes and memories under the fall sky. It is the perfect occasion to come together with friends and family for an unforgettable evening.

As the festival draws near, excitement grows for this unique gathering in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. Make sure to get your tickets early, as they tend to sell out quickly. 

Don’t miss out on this stunning display where light meets water, creating a captivating spectacle for all to enjoy.

Lexington water lantern 1
An image inspired by the mesmerizing Lexington Water Lantern Festival at Kentucky, USA.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The Lexington Water Lantern Festival unfolds at the scenic Kentucky Horse Park on Rolex Lane in Lexington, Kentucky, United States. This iconic venue, known for its expansive green spaces and equestrian facilities, offers a serene backdrop for the festival’s breathtaking display of light and reflection. Nestled in the heart of horse country, the park transforms into a luminous arena where community and culture come together under the glow of thousands of floating lanterns.

The Kentucky Horse Park is conveniently located approximately 12 miles from the Blue Grass Airport, making it easily accessible for visitors flying in. 

Here are some options for traveling from the airport to the festival location:

  • Taxi: A quick and direct way to reach the park, with numerous taxis available at the airport.
  • Ride-Sharing Services: Companies like Uber and Lyft operate in the area, offering convenient door-to-door service.
  • Car Rental: Rent a car from the airport for flexibility to explore Lexington and its surroundings at your own pace.
  • Public Bus: Local buses run regularly from the airport to downtown, where you can transfer to a bus heading towards the park.

For those coming from other cities by train, here are detailed guidelines:

From Cincinnati, Ohio:

–Train to Lexington: Catch an Amtrak train to the Cincinnati Union Terminal, then a connecting bus service to Lexington.

–Lexington Station to Festival: From Lexington’s bus terminal, take a city bus directly to Kentucky Horse Park.

From Louisville, Kentucky:

–Train to Lexington: There is no direct train to Lexington, but you can take a train to Louisville and then a bus to Lexington.

–Lexington Station to Festival: Upon arriving in Lexington, local buses are available to take you to the festival site.

From Nashville, Tennessee:

–Train to Lexington: Similar to Louisville, take a train to Nashville’s station, then a bus to Lexington.

–Lexington Station to Festival: From the bus terminal in Lexington, board a local bus that goes directly to Kentucky Horse Park.

If you liked this festival, you may also want to check out these other amazing lantern festivals:

Pingxi Lantern Festival

Kaga Yuzen Toro Nagashi

Festival Hours

The gates of the Kentucky Horse Park will swing open at 5:00 PM, signaling the start of the Lexington Water Lantern Festival. From then until 9:00 PM, attendees can indulge in a variety of food trucks, groove to live music, and participate in festive activities. It’s a full evening of enjoyment set against the picturesque backdrop of rolling fields and evening skies.

As the sun begins to set around 7:30 PM, you’ll have the opportunity to design your own lantern, adding a personal touch to this luminous celebration. The highlight of the night, the lantern launch, will commence at 8:00 PM, creating a mesmerizing display of light floating across the water. The event concludes at 9:00 PM, leaving guests with cherished memories of a beautifully lit evening.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend the Lexington Water Lantern Festival

Attending the Lexington Water Lantern Festival offers a range of ticket options designed to accommodate everyone’s needs. An adult regular ticket is priced at $35.99 if purchased by August 30, 2024, but this price increases to $45.99 for late purchases made by September 6. On the day of the event, September 7, the price for entry rises to $55.99, reflecting the demand for this unique experience.

For families, the festival is particularly accommodating; tickets for youths aged 8-14 are available for just $13.70. Children under the age of 7 can enjoy the festival for free, although their entry does not include a lantern kit. This pricing structure makes the festival a great destination for families looking to enjoy a community event together.

Couples looking for a memorable evening can take advantage of the Date Night Special for $71.11, which not only covers entry for two adults but also includes an array of extras. These perks enhance the experience and include two wristbands, lantern kits, LED candles, and more, culminating in a shared mandala throw. This package is perfect for those wanting to add a bit of romance to their festival experience, making it an evening to remember.

For more information and details on ticket prices, please visit the festival’s official website and social media channels.

Lexington water lantern 2
An image inspired from the Lexington Water Lantern Festival

Weather and What to Wear

In September, Kentucky welcomes the early hints of fall with a climate that is as inviting as the festive events it hosts. During this month, temperatures typically range from a comfortable low of about 56°F (13°C) in the evenings to a pleasant high of 77°F (25°C) during the day. This moderate weather makes the Lexington Water Lantern Festival not only a visual delight but also a pleasant outdoor experience.

To ensure you enjoy the festival in comfort, consider these clothing recommendations:

  • Light Jacket: Evenings can get a bit chilly, so a light jacket or sweater will keep you warm as the temperature drops.
  • Comfortable Shoes: You’ll likely be walking on grass and uneven surfaces, so wear comfortable footwear suitable for outdoor terrain.
  • Rain Gear: September can be unpredictable, so pack a light raincoat or an umbrella just in case.
  • Layers: Dressing in layers is always a smart choice as it allows you to adjust to the changing temperatures throughout the event.
  • Casual Wear: Opt for casual, breathable clothing that will keep you comfortable throughout the event, allowing you to move freely and enjoy every moment.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

After a day of glowing lights and magical reflections at the festival, relax and recharge at one of the conveniently located hotels in Lexington, Kentucky. Here are a few options to consider:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington-Downtown/University, an IHG Hotel (2-star)

  • Location: 1000 Export St, Lexington, KY 40504, United States
  • Description: Situated near the University of Kentucky, this hotel offers easy access to downtown attractions and the campus itself, making it ideal for visitors looking to explore the city.
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, indoor pool, hot tub

Holiday Inn Lexington – Hamburg, an IHG Hotel (3-star)

  • Location: 1976 Justice Dr, Lexington, KY 40509, United States
  • Description: Located in the Hamburg area, known for its shopping and dining options, this hotel provides a comfortable stay with convenient access to both the festival site and local attractions.
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, indoor pool

Hilton Lexington/Downtown (3-star, Eco-certified)

  • Location: 369 W Vine St, Lexington, KY 40507, United States
  • Description: This eco-certified hotel is right in the heart of downtown Lexington, offering luxurious accommodations with stunning city views and proximity to major entertainment and business venues.
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, indoor pool, air-conditioned rooms

Where to Eat

Fuel your festival experience with a delicious meal from some of Lexington’s diverse culinary spots, each offering unique flavors and atmospheres. Here are some top dining options to consider:

Carson’s Food & Drink – On Main (American restaurant)

  • Location: 362 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507, United States
  • Description: A hip speakeasy vibe with TVs and outdoor seating, this spot elevates pub grub with creative twists alongside inventive cocktails.
  • Foods Served: Tofu stir-fry, sweet and spicy steak, creole filet

Bourbon n’ Toulouse (Cajun restaurant)

  • Location: 829 Euclid Ave, Lexington, KY 40502, United States
  • Description: A colorful and casual setting serving Cajun and Creole dishes, many of which are gluten-free, along with options for vegan diners.
  • Foods Served: Vegan black beans, honey bourbon barbeque, chicken piquant

OBC Kitchen (Gastropub)

  • Location: 3373 Tates Creek Rd, Lexington, KY 40502, United States
  • Description: Stylish restaurant offering a modern take on Southern fare, paired with a craft beer selection and an extensive bourbon list.
  • Foods Served: Couscous salad, shrimp & grits, classic bacon cheeseburger

More Things to Do in the Area

Explore more of Lexington’s charm with these additional attractions, each offering unique experiences that complement your visit to the Water Lantern Festival. Here are some recommended spots to continue your adventure:

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Kentucky Horse Park

  • Location: 4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511, United States
  • Description: A multifaceted venue that serves as a working horse farm, an international equestrian competition venue, and an educational theme park since its inception in 1978.
  • Activities to Explore: Attend horse shows, explore the horse museum, enjoy horseback trail and pony rides.

Jacobson Park

  • Location: 4001 Athens Boonesboro Rd, Lexington, KY 40509, United States
  • Description: This expansive city park is a hub for outdoor activities, equipped with sports facilities and recreational areas.
  • Activities to Explore: Play basketball or volleyball, rent pedal boats, go fishing, or visit the dog park.

McConnell Springs Park

  • Location: 416 Rebmann Ln, Lexington, KY 40504, United States
  • Description: Nestled within an industrial setting, this 26-acre park is known for its unique natural features, including artesian springs.
  • Activities to Explore: Explore walking trails, view historical sites, and learn about local ecology and karst landscapes.

An Illuminating Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at the Lexington Water Lantern Festival

As the night falls on Lexington, the Water Lantern Festival transforms Kentucky Horse Park into a luminous sea of hopes and dreams. This event not only illuminates the evening with thousands of floating lanterns but also brings people together in a celebration of peace and community. 

From designing your own lantern to enjoying the local cuisine and live music, there’s something for everyone at this magical gathering. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this unforgettable experience where light and water meet in spectacular harmony.


Is parking available at the festival?

Yes, there is ample parking at Kentucky Horse Park for festival attendees.

Can I bring my own food and drinks?

Outside food and drinks are permitted, but a variety of food trucks will also be available on site.

Are pets allowed at the festival?

Pets are not allowed to ensure the safety and comfort of all guests, except for service animals.

Is smoking permitted at the festival?

Smoking is prohibited to maintain a clean and healthy environment for all attendees.

Can I bring a camera?

Yes, cameras are allowed. Attendees are encouraged to capture and share their festival moments!

What should I do if it rains during the festival?

The festival is a rain-or-shine event, so please come prepared with rain gear just in case.

Are there restrooms available on site?

Yes, there are ample portable restrooms available throughout the festival grounds.

Is the festival accessible for wheelchairs and strollers?

Yes, the grounds are wheelchair and stroller accessible to ensure everyone can enjoy the event.

Lexington water lantern 3
An image inspired by the Lexington Water Lantern Festival

Sources: https://www.waterlanternfestival.com/lexington.php 


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