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Mater Christi Learning Commons: Lantern Making

Resources, research support and skill development

What is a Lantern Parade?

Lantern Parades are celebrated in many parts of the world, from China through to Germany. Often they are held in Winter to celebrate Solstice.

Paper Lanterns

Bamboo Lanterns

Paddle Pop Stick Lantern

When is the Lantern Parade?


Even though the Lantern Festival is all about walking with your lantern, the techniques shown could be used to make a hand held lantern rather than a Sky Lantern.

Step 1: Decide on a design

Lanterns can be as simple as acetate paper wrapped around a torch through to large animals powered by LED lights. You need to firstly decide on what shape your lantern might be as it will influence what materials you are going to make your skeleton out of.

Square skeleton can be made out of ridgid materials like chopsticks or paper straws. Rounded or more organic skeletons can be made out of flexible bamboo or wire.

Step 2: Decide how to light the lantern

Making your lighting decision early will dictate the type of materials you will use to make your lanterns out of. If you are using a candle, then your lantern design needs to take this into account.

  • How flammable will your materials be?
  • If you are using LED lights, what will they be attached to?
  • What battery pack or power will you need to light your lantern?
  • If you are using a naked flame, will that be a candle? 
  • Or a fuel cell?

Step 3: Build a skeleton of your lantern

There are many ways in which you can create the skeleton for your lantern.

  • Newspaper straws
  • Wax straws
  • Plastic strips 
  • Bamboo Skewers or slats from an old blind.
  • Old wire coat hangers

You might secure these with glue, wire or cotton.

Consider how you might hold your lantern for an extended period of time. If it is on a pole, you might need to get a pole harness or fishing line fighting belt to help you hold your lantern.

Step 4: Cover your lantern

There are many methods that can be used to cover lanterns. One of the most popular is using wax paper or baking paper that has been laminated using PVA or Modgepodge.