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Chinese lanterns

We do not endorse the use of flying lanterns but have provided this guidance to help you safely enjoy their use should you choose to do so.

No liability is accepted for any injury, loss or damage that may arise from their use. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions fully.

Considerations for safe use

Sky lanterns can pose a significant fire hazard.

The Norfolk sky lantern and balloon release charter encourages businesses, communities, and individuals to sign up and switch to alternative ways of celebrating events, instead of using balloon or lantern releases. 

Whilst lighting a sky lantern and its launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There is no guarantee that the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern eventually descends. Any contact with a flammable surface could result in a fire developing.

Think about the local launch area and the intended flight path. The following list highlights some areas that should be avoided for fire safety reasons:

  • Areas of crops
  • Buildings with thatched roofs
  • Areas of dense woodland
  • Areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions

Event organisers must ensure that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment has been completed prior to allowing the launch of flying lanterns. You should check with your insurance provider if additional insurance coverage will be required.

Guidance for the use of flying lanterns

These notes are to aid the risk assessment for the use of flying lanterns. However, users should always follow the manufacturer's instructions.


  • Only responsible adults should use lanterns
  • Adults should not be under the influence of alcohol or any substance that could affect their level of responsibility
  • Have water or other extinguishers available at the launch site. Lanterns or clothing may ignite if the correct launch procedures are not followed
  • Keep the launch area clear of flammable materials
  • Children and other observers must maintain a safe distance upwind of the launch area
  • Two adults are required to correctly launch each lantern
  • Do not attempt to launch damaged lanterns. Be aware that writing messages on paper can cause damage
  • Do not smoke whilst handling lanterns


Launch conditions and area

  • Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, power lines or buildings
  • Avoid launching near roads, especially major roads or motorways
  • Avoid crops, especially in dry conditions
  • Avoid areas where confusion may arise with distress signals
  • Do not launch within five miles of any airport
  • Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of five mph
  • Check wind direction before launch
  • Be aware of any other local conditions that could affect launch or landing safety such as thatched buildings, crops or dry heathland


Launch procedure

Caution! - Steps may vary, refer to the manufacturer's instructions

  • Unpack and assemble the components carefully to avoid damage
  • Remove packaging waste from the area
  • Gently pull the centre of the lantern up and start to inflate it by "dropping" to allow the air pressure to inflate. Take care not to damage the paper
  • Hold the lantern upright and ask a second person to carefully light the fuel cell
  • Support the lantern gently as it inflates fully, it will eventually feel lighter and start to rise
  • Do not attempt to throw the lantern skyward, allow it to rise with support only
  • Do not tie anything to the lantern as this may cause instability which could lead to the lantern igniting