If you were to measure your life in sights that left you spellbound, whether they be of natural beauty or formed by the hand of man, to what extent could you say you have truly ‘lived’?

Okay, existential conundrums aside, a beautiful view can be a pretty life-affirming experience. On June 21, the sky above the Polish city of Ponzan was transformed into such a view when 50,000 paper were released into the night sky to celebrate the summer solstice, known as St John’s Night.

According to our Japanese correspondent who was in Poland for the celebration, attendees write their wishes on the paper lanterns before sending them up. It is said that if the lantern safely reaches the sky, the wish will come true.

The organizers of the event sought to set a Guinness world record for the most lanterns flown simultaneously and their efforts seemed to have paid off as thousands of people gathered at the field along the Warta river where the event took place. Part of this is likely thanks to the 2012 UEFA EURO European Football Championship being held at the same time and the area was alive with live music and other festivities. By the end of the night it was said that roughly 50,000 lanterns were released into the sky, compared with only 8000 last year.

Though rain the day before led many people to fear the event would be cancelled, it soon cleared up and by the evening the crowd was so eager that many people began lighting their lanterns even before the official 10:15 starting time.

Our correspondent writes that she was also unable to contain her excitement and decided to light her lantern early, though it proved more difficult than she thought.

“The lanterns were so large that it took 3 people just to put one together and 5 minutes to ignite the piece of charcoal that sends it floating upward.”

Our correspondent continues: “I had become so absorbed in trying to light my own lantern that I almost didn’t notice how the night had become brighter than before. When I looked up, there already a countless number of lanterns drifting through the sky above. It may sound tacky, but at that moment the night really did feel magical, almost like I was in the scene of a Disney movie. A profound emotion gripped my chest as I thought of how I stood there with thousands of strangers, gazing up at the same sky as our lanterns carried each of our wishes to the heavens.

“I followed my lantern as it floated gently upward, a tiny beacon in the dark, until it disappeared in the sea of orange light that filled the sky. Even if my flame went out and my wish goes ungranted, I’m grateful that I was able to help create such a beautiful view and share it with so many people.”

While only in its third year, this paper lantern skyline looks like it may become an annual tradition and those of you interested in attending next year should mark your calendars for June 21. Trust us: if you think the images and video footage below is breathtaking, wait until you see it for yourself.

Photos & Correspondent: Photographer Koach


[ Read in Japanese ]