Sept. 11, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The popular Peace Lantern Festival, where hundreds of glowing lanterns are set off to float along the East River in a ceremony for peace, will be returning to the Long Island City waterfront this weekend.
The six-hour festival, set for Sept. 16, includes several simultaneous activities for people of all ages, including paddling, “dancercise”, meditation workshops, and a round of speakers and interfaith prayers before a slew of decorated lanterns are unleashed.
From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., festival-goers can paddle in the East River, decorate lanterns, make seed balls (a seed, soil, and clay mixture meant for cultivating plants), participate in Afrodancercise, and more.
Also within this time frame are several meditation sessions, where instructors will give an introduction to the practice in various Buddhist traditions.
The festival will wind down with a lineup of speakers set to begin their speeches at 6:30 p.m. and lead interfaith prayers with attendees. From there, roughly 100 decorated lanterns will be released into the East River.
The festival marks the beginning of the U.N. Peace Week, commemorated with the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.
The Peace Lanterns Festival began in 2002, and was created by Erik Baard, founder of HarborLAB, and the Buddhist Council of New York, to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The ceremonies took place by the Hudson River for the first ten years, given its proximity to the towers, and was then moved to the Long Island City waterfront.
The free event draws thousands of attendees, and is organized by a number of groups including the Interfaith Center of New York, the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, and New York State Parks.
The Peace Lanterns Festival will take place on Sept. 16 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gantry Plaza State Park, located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue.
HarborLAB, one of the organizers, is looking for volunteers to help with the festivities. Roles range from face painting to water safety. For details and to register as a volunteer, click here.