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How to Safely Launch a Sky Lantern

Updated on October 29, 2013
30th birthday celebration.
30th birthday celebration.

Sky lanterns can provide a spectacular display for any occasion, from birthday parties to weddings.

I have been speaking to Night Sky Lanterns, where together, we’ve put together a little guide on how to launch sky lanterns so that you and your watchers can enjoy their magic safely.

Step 1

Remove the sky lantern from the packaging.
Remove the sky lantern from the packaging.

Step 2

Take the protective cover off the fuel cell.
Take the protective cover off the fuel cell.

Step 3

Unfold the lantern and hold upside down
Unfold the lantern and hold upside down

Step 4

Light the corner of the fuel cell and allow the flame to spread.
Light the corner of the fuel cell and allow the flame to spread.

Step 5

Flip the lantern and gently hold the top and bottom
Flip the lantern and gently hold the top and bottom

Step 6

Allow the warm air to build up within the lantern and guide the lantern skywards as it rises.
Allow the warm air to build up within the lantern and guide the lantern skywards as it rises.

Other Safety Guidelines

Also here are some general safety guidelines that it is important to be aware of and to consider before you launch.

  • Be aware of your clothing

You should not wear flammable clothing during a launch and it is advisable to wear gloves for added protection.

  • Check the condition of the lantern

Check that the lantern has not been torn during the unpacking or launch preparations because any holes will prevent it from inflating, rising and flying properly and so make it unsuitable for use. If you do discover any holes please DO NOT be tempted to patch them up with sticky tape or similar materials because these will add weight to the lantern and reduce its flight capability.

  • Take care when lighting the fuel cell

Always ensure you have stored your lantern in a cool, dry place to avoid the fuel cell drying out. Then when you light the fuel cell, make sure to let the flame spread over the fuel cell so that it is well alight before turning the lantern over.

  • Location, location, location

Only release lanterns from a safe location, please consider the following points when planning your launch:

  • Wind - avoid releasing if the wind speed is greater than 5 mph because the lantern will travel horizontally faster than it rises which can increase the risk of a lantern getting snagged on an obstruction before it is fully airborne.

  • Trees, Pylons and Telegraph poles - tall structures can be an obstacle and lanterns may get caught up so it is best take to release your lanterns in wide open areas and well away from potential obstructions. Also do check the wind direction and take care to avoid launching lanterns which will travel in the direction of nearby power and telephone lines.

  • Buildings - setting off lanterns in a built up area is not usually a good idea, as lanterns can get snagged on roofs, aerials and outdoor festive decorations. On the other hand if you’ve access to a rooftop garden this could be an ideal launch pad providing the wind conditions are right.

  • Airports - if you live within 5 miles of an airport or airfield, it is recommended to let the Civil Aviation Authority know of your intention to release sky lanterns so they are informed.

  • Coastline – lanterns have on occasions been mistaken for distress signals so if you are releasing lanterns in coastal areas with shipping, do tell the local coastguard to avoid possible false call outs.

Following these few simple guidelines will help certainly ensure that everyone can enjoy your lanterns in a safe and responsible manner.

VIDEO: Launching a Sky Lantern


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    • CandleBags profile imageAUTHOR

      Lewis Sellers 

      5 years ago from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

      Glad you liked it! They're pretty awesome to look at, especially with large numbers going up all at once.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Pretty cool man. I saw a group of these launched one time in Madison, Wisconsin here in the states for a winter solstice celebration. Amazing how something glowing up in the sky can make you feel warm.




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