Winter sun over Ullock Pike copyright Michael Turner

'Chinese' sky lanterns

Recently 'Chinese' lanterns or sky lanterns have become popular at birthdays, weddings and other celebrations. National Parks England wants to see sky lanterns classed as litter and banned.

We ask you to please not release sky lanterns anywhere across the Lake District National Park.

Risks from sky lanterns

Not biodegradable

The paper can degrade in about six to eight weeks. But the wire in them can last nine months and is of a fine gauge with sharp ends. There are some without wire that use cane, wool or string – but these still take time to degrade and could cause issues for livestock and littering.

Fire risk

There is evidence that their use has caused moorland or forest fires at certain times of year when vegetation and weather conditions have made sites vulnerable to fire.

Danger to livestock

There have been examples of cattle and sheep eating the lanterns and wire. This has caused injury to stomachs and mouths. There are recorded cases in the UK of death from internal injury.

Contaminates hay and silage

Farmers cutting grass for stock feed or bedding can gather wire and other lantern parts in the grass, which in turn is fed or used as bedding for stock.


Even though some parts are biodegradable they do remain on view either on the ground, in trees and hedges, which is an eyesore.

Can be confused with distress flares

The UK Coastguard has been called out on false alarms when lanterns have been confused with distress flares.