Chinese lanterns are often released at parties. But watch out! In some cities and municipalities, it is prohibited to release Chinese lanterns. Their use might be dangerous. The FPS Economy would like to draw your attention to the importance of using them safely.

These lanterns, also known as "Thai Lanterns", can be found on the market in various models and colours. Other names for this product are: lucky lantern, UFO balloon, sky lantern, commemorative balloon, wish lantern, Oriental lantern, etc. They are used on various occasions.

Is there a ban on Chinese lanterns in particular cities or municipalities?

In some Walloon municipalities and cities, as well as parts of Brussels, it is prohibited to release wish lanterns. Ask the municipality where you want to release the lanterns or the police what the local regulations are. A police ordinance in the municipality or city may also contain provisions on the use of Chinese lanterns, such as a permit or reporting requirement.

Restrictions on releasing Chinese lanterns for aviation safety reasons

Within the area known as "zone 2", the release of Chinese lanterns is not permitted for reasons of aviation safety. This zone is shown on a map from the FPS Mobility.

What could go wrong when releasing Chinese lanterns?

Releasing a Chinese lantern is a festive and enchanting activity at the end of the year, but it involves risks. A Chinese lantern works according to the principle of a hot air balloon: a burner with an open flame heats air in a (rice) paper lantern, giving it lift-off power. If used carelessly and incorrectly, this product could cause a fire. Read the instructions for use very carefully and follow them. Such lanterns should always be inflated under adult supervision and guidance.

In addition to the fire hazard in the vicinity of buildings, trees and other situations at risk of fire, Chinese lanterns are also dangerous to air traffic. So do not release them near an airport. Rescue services may also confuse these lanterns with distress flares.

Advice and tips on the use of Chinese lanterns

The FPS Economy recommends you to be extra cautious. If you wish to release a Chinese lantern, follow the tips below:

  • Do not buy any Chinese lanterns until you know whether you can release them in the municipality where you wish to do so. Check with the municipality in question or from the local police for that municipality.
  • Check with the Directorate-General for Air Transport whether you need permission to release your lanterns. You need to apply for such permission at least 20 days before releasing the lanterns.
  • Check the lantern for any damage, such as holes or cracks. Never release a damaged lantern!
  • Do not attach any other objects to the bottom of the lantern.
  • Pay close attention to the weather conditions. Do not release the lantern in humid weather (rain, fog, etc.) or in times of draught. Ideally, there should be little to no wind (wind force of less than 2 Beaufort or 11 km/h). Always check the weather forecast.
  • Only release the lantern outdoors.
  • Provide a wide route for it to fly away. Keep a sufficient distance from tall objects such as trees, houses, buildings and other (flammable) obstacles.
  • Stay out of a wide radius around airports.
  • After lighting the burner/wick, always hold the lantern with at least two adults until it is released.
  • Stay calm and take your time. Once the burner is burning well, hold the lantern for at least another 90 seconds before releasing it.
Last update
5 January 2023