Most people are familiar with sky lanterns, and they have become popular in recent years. They turn up in magazines, television, and movies for a variety of different reasons. However, many people are unsure of when and where they are intended to be used. I get emails all the time asking me for more information. So why do people release sky lanterns? Here is a definitive guide explaining their uses at a variety of different occasions.

Image of Birthday Party Decorations on a TableBirthday Parties

One of the most common reasons why people release sky lanterns is for a birthday party. It can be a really fun activity for the guests, and the birthday honoree will enjoy it as well. After they blow out all of their candles, everyone can gather in the backyard. Take turns if your yard is small, or everyone can release them together. Either way, it will make for an unforgettable birthday celebration!


Graduations are a fantastic time to release sky lanterns. First off, it will make the event feel like it is important to the celebrating student. Any added attention goes a long way when trying to make someone feel proud. Additionally, it has a very symbolic meaning behind it. The student can light and release one, and it will mark the closing of one chapter. However, it also marks the beginning of a whole new chapter; so you actually get to enjoy a double-meaning.

Gender Reveal Parties

Many couples reveal the gender of their baby by throwing a big party. They invite all of their friends and family to celebrate the unveiling of this new information. Over the years, people have used a variety of fun items to reveal the gender. I’ve seen everything from blue colored cake to confetti cannons filled with pink glitter. Recently, using sparklers to reveal a baby’s gender become all the rage. However, using sky lanterns for gender reveal parties is the latest craze.

Since they come in a variety of colors, you can choose either red (pink) or blue to signify the gender. It’s best to release them from an unseen location so the surprise happens while they are in the air. It can be tough to hide the color in mixed company before you launch.


This one can seem a bit depressing, but it can actually be quite heartfelt. The reason why people release sky lanterns at funerals is to symbolize their “soul” moving on to the next realm. What that actually means can vary between cultures and the different world religions. Essentially, it’s the same as lighting a candle or letting sand blow away in the wind. However, it is a much more special and memorable experience for those in mourning.

Image of Sky Lanterns Being Released at a Lantern FestivalLantern Festivals

There are many countries that have lantern festivals, but China is the undisputed champion. If you’ve ever seen photos of a festival, you’ll already know that it is an insane spectacle! Literally thousands upon thousands of sky lanterns are released over China’s largest cities, and it can span for miles at a time. If you’ve never checked it out, you should definitely browse some pictures on the internet.

Team Building Events

Team building is the cornerstone to any great workplace. Though many modern businesses ignore workplace morale, there are still good companies out there who are taking care of the ones who produce the profits. Instead of playing paintball or practicing trust falls, have your employees team up to release sky lanterns together. You can mix that in with a variety of other team building exercises to create a fun event that will improve teamwork and boost morale.


Weddings are a very important celebration, and sky lanterns are a popular way to make them even more magical. There is a wide variety of ways that they can be used, but here is a list of the most popular methods.

  • Use them in send-off lines or wedding exits.
  • Release them instead of balloons or doves.
  • Use them instead of lighting a unity candle.
  • Release one in remembrance of a special family member.
  • Give them to your guests as a wedding favor.

There is no shortage of ways to use them, and your creativity is the only limit. Many people decorate them or have guests write statements of well-wishes on them to make it more personal. I suggest using white sky lanterns at your wedding because they are the most elegant option. Additionally, they are easier to decorate; so it is a best case scenario for color choice.

Why Do People Release Sky Lanterns at These Events?

There are many reasons why people release sky lanterns, and it is 100% due to how cool they are. Honestly, you could use any number of different items for most of these purposes. However, nothing gets the job done quite like sky lanterns. Whether you want to fill the night sky with dozens of them or just release one with your partner, they are hard to beat.