The Feast of Lanterns is a historic festival based on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis. Its earliest incarnations in the late 1800s were of small gatherings and decorated front porches in nearby neighborhoods like Woodruff Place. By 1909 these neighborhood events had morphed in to a single, larger festival that took place in Spades Park. Neighbors came out to hang paper lanterns—lit first by candles and later by electric lights. The park, historic bandstand, and numerous bridges were illuminated by the colorful lantern lights. Nearby homes would participate by decorating their porches. As time passed—through World War I, the Roaring 20s, and Prohibition—the event continued to be celebrated. But by the 1940s the event was held only sporadically and eventually not at all.
In the early 2000s local neighbors from Windsor Park and Springdale were looking to begin an outdoor music festival and re-discovered the historic Feast of Lanterns festival. The theme of colorful lanterns lit throughout the park was incorporated with local music, craft vendors, and neighborhood booths. Eventually the event was hosted by Near Eastside Community Organization (NESCO) for more than a decade. In 2015, NESCO announced they would not be hosting Feast as part of their efforts to reorganize and refocus as an organization. This year’s Feast of Lanterns, hosted by Lanterns Foundation, brings a refocus on the origins of the event, local neighbors and neighborhoods working together to not only put on a festival but also to build community.
Lanterns Foundation was started by three Near Eastsiders with a passion for the Feast of Lanterns and what it meant to them. We are a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and hosting of this historic Near Eastside Event.
The Feast of Lanterns is a historic festival based on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis. Its earliest incarnations in the late 1800s were of small gatherings and decorated front porches in nearby neighborhoods like Woodruff Place. By 1909…