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. 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. 

Print, color, cut out and tape together these little angels and set over a battery-operated tea light. It 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.

The Lismore Lantern Parade, Lismore, Austrailia.


I did these designs that you can download for free, or get some ideas and draw your own. The crayon makes them a little more sturdy on printer paper. They go together with scotch tape. These are set on over jars and glasses with battery tea lights. Use a bit of clear tape to get them to sit where you like on the glass. Printing them on card stock with crayon on both sides makes them more durable. 

Accordion lanterns tutorial:

For 2020 parading-in-place, 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 they have lasted on my porch for two weeks now.


Here are some examples and a video tutorial for illuminated dioramas and box lanterns. They are with a variety of light sources. "3 LED puck lights" are good, like the kind made for under cabinets. There are all kinds on line and often at a hardware store.


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, try The Paper Lantern Store.


They are particularly nice with a window cut out and a drawing inside.


Recycled bottles can make lovely lanterns tricked out with tissue paper or paint.  Check out photos of the Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade and this step-by-step tutorial by Handmade Charlotte. You can do cool things with jars, too.


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. You can use bamboo. Sometimes you can find bamboo blinds and take them apart. Wire would work. Wisteria has potential  For the paper, you can use butcher paper, copy paper, or paper towels. You can wrap your form in plastic and then glue colored tissue to it. This Eden Project Communities video nicely explains the basics. Look at that purposeful parade!


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!)
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