There are all kinds of ways to make volumes of light. Invent! We all love seeing new lantern forms. Take a look at some ideas below for making your own lanterns, and then get inspired by some of the amazing lantern parades around the world at the bottom of the page!
Note: For 2020, we "paraded-in-place" for the Hilton Head Island, Decatur, and Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parades. That is, everyone was invited to put their lanterns out their porch, yard, or in their windows to delight their neighbors, and Krewe giant lantern puppets visited lit up neighborhoods. It was really sweet. We also created a drive-thru puppet safari! So, I added ideas here for decorating at home. The homes that were lit up with handmade lanterns were so precious, I have a feeling that hanging lanterns at home for parade weekend just became part of our lantern parade traditions.
LITTLE ANGELS & WINGED THINGS
Print, color, cut out and tape together these little angels and set over a battery-operated tea light. Tape the light and the lantern to a stick for parading! They would also be nice on sturdier paper with more cut-outs. Use this as a pattern idea! I made different heads and robes. Draw your own or you're welcome to mine.I made a bigger paper-cut angel lantern kit that might give you some ideas, too.
CARDBOARD BOX LANTERNS
Here are some examples and a video tutorial for illuminated dioramas and box lanterns. They are lit with a variety of light sources. "3 LED puck lights" are good, like the kind made for under cabinets. It is fun for parade lanterns to be carried up above your head. Run a stick through the box and secure with strong tape or make a cardboard tube attached to the back that the stick slides into or tie a string to the box and to the stick. Nice sticks are at garden centers.
You can decorate globe lanterns with colored tissue paper and make dimensional bits with construction paper and hot glue. We like them up on a stick for parade with a battery-operated tap light inside. There are lots of examples of those in the lantern workshop gallery. These are made in China for their many ancient lantern festival traditions. There are many vendors online and they are at Richarde's Variety store in Atlanta.
If you have seen any UK lantern parades, you have seen all those lovely willow lanterns. Unfortunately, the US doesn't have willow or "wet grade" tissue. You can order willow from the UK. I use it for my big lanterns. If you are in Atlanta, I'd be happy to give you a handful to play with. For the triangles and other straight lines, you can use bamboo (which grows all over the place here) or marshmallow toasting sticks work nicely. Sometimes you can find bamboo blinds and take them apart. Wire works well. Wisteria has potential. For the paper, you can use butcher paper, copy paper, or paper towels with glue mixed with water or wheat paste. Or you can wrap your form in plastic wrap and then glue colored tissue to it. This Eden Project Communities video nicely explains the basics of the UK style. And look at that purposeful parade!
AMAZING LANTERN PARADES and LANTERN CREATIONS:
Handmade Parade, Todmorden, UK
Lismore Lantern Parade, Lismore, Australia
Kanto Matsuri , Akita, Japan
Sierra Leone Lantern Parade, Freetown, Sierra Leon
Nelly the Obby Oss by Rag and Bone, UK
The Lantern Company, Liverpool, UK
Thingumajig Theater, West Yorkshire, England
Nebuta Matsuri, Aomori, Japan
Macnas Parade, Gallway, Ireland (more than a lantern parade!)
Lotus Lantern Festival, Seoul, Korea
I did these designs that you can download for free, or get some ideas and draw your own. They are nice printed on bright colored card stock (you're local print shop can do that). The crayon makes them a little more sturdy on printer paper. You can glue two sheets together vertically to make a bigger lantern (glue stick works well). They're great nested. The ones pictures are made with 5 sheets of 8 x 11 color card stock. They go together with scotch tape. Tape them to a stick with a flashlight at the bottom for parading! Use a stronger tape for the flash light. Or set them over jars and glasses with battery tea lights for decorations.
Accordion lanterns tutorial slide show:
You can see where you want to cut and where you don't.
For house decorating, there is the advantage of electricity and the lanterns being stationary. Consider retrofitting your holiday lights with lanterns. I added a little frame made of skewers and hot glue to these card stock accordion lanterns and lasted on my porch for three weeks!