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Wild & Crazy Paper Lanterns from Around the World

  • by admin
  • 4 min read

With the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival a little over a week away (Sept. 30, 2012),  paper lanterns are very much on the minds of the people of the Pacific Rim who are getting ready to celebrate. The lanterns they have in mind are probably not the ones you would have at your wedding! Their lanterns are not necessarily made of paper, and they would not necessarily fit in a reception hall. (For traditional wedding lanterns here’s a link to our paper lantern collection on Luna Bazaar.)

A recent article from Malaysia described paper lanterns adorned with “Angry Birds”. That made me curious to find out what other strange paper lanterns there are around the world. This is what I found out:

Soaring away: Zech Chan and his father Y.C. Chan
choosing an Angry Bird lantern
from among the traditional candle-lit
lanterns in Penang,Sept. 10, 2012.

In Asia there appear to be more lanterns for kids. Besides Angry Birds, cartoon characters like Snow White and Winnie-the-Pooh can be found on paper lanterns in the shops in Penang. These children’s lanterns are made to be carried at night during the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival. Parents there like lanterns  that are battery-operated. They’re safer than a candle-lit lantern, and will stay lit for a long period of time.

Winnie-the-Pooh and Snow White paper lanterns.

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’re aware that “Hello Kitty” has appeared on every toy, lunchbox, notepad, and article of clothing known to humankind. It should come as no surprise then, that a huge “Hello Kitty” lantern, decked out as royalty, occupies the highest place of honor outside this temple at a lantern festival in Singapore. Naturally she is accompanied by the royal Kitty Consort, Prince Kitty.

Her Royal Kittyness in Singapore.

Here’s an interesting one. Unfortunately, I am too old to know who these characters are.

Cartoon Paper Lantern from

This fascinating, sideways accordion lantern depicts Sailor Moon, the animé character. Even Iknow who she is!

Hangzhou Sunbeauty store in China.

If a paper lantern does not depict a well-known character or cartoon, you can always alter it so that it does! That’s what this lady decided to do. By wrapping a sparkly tinsel garland around a plain paper lantern and adding some cut-out paper facial features, she made her own Sesame Street “Elmo”.

from Aunt Peaches

(Note: I was just informed  by one of my co-workers that those those figures above, that I didn’t recognize, are from the world of Pokemon. I’m so embarrassed I didn’t know that!)

Of course, some people just won’t be happy until they see lanterns as heads of animals. The beloved Panda as well as the Tiger, Fox, Elephant and Penguin can be recognized in the picture below.( One or two of them may be fish.) This remarkable find is from Scandinavia.

Little Cute Mokkasin

Human faces can also show up on lanterns. Here is a sky lantern, or wish lantern bearing the face of Santa Claus. For some reason sky lanterns are very popular in the U.K. If anyone out there knows why, please leave a message below. For safety reasons, Cultural Intrigue doesn’t sell sky lanterns.

Santa face and Union Jack Sky Lanterns
from Party Delights in the U.K.

In France sky lanterns are known as “lanternes Thailandaise”, or “lanternes celeste”. An important feature for them is that they are “écologique” and made “sans métal”.

“Lanternes Celestes” are popular in France too. These are from

You could think of this as a huge sky lantern, but actually, it’s a hot air balloon. I include it here, because it’s simply something that everyone should see:

Darth Vader hot air balloon. Fantastic!

Darth Does New Jersey, plus he has his own Facebook page with over 2,000 likes.

Let’s get into some more abstract variations on the lantern. Etsy, that great pool of DIY talent, is a source for many wildly imaginative paper lanterns. The one below was made by attaching strips of colored paper to a plain paper lantern.

Dramatic Paper Lantern covered with streamers. For sale on Etsy.

Back to the Far East. At the really big lantern festivals, you can find giant lantern sculptures that are hard to describe. This strange one looks like an aquatic life-form from another world. It was part of the huge lantern festival in Kaifeng, one of the seven ancient capitals of China.

Glowing plant shapes at the Lantern Festival in Kaifeng, China.

And now for the largest lanterns in the world!I love these!

Lantern float at the Kaifeng Lantern Festival. This is one of the largest festivals in the world.
Although most of us have never heard of it, Kaifeng is a city of 5 million people
that has been around since 346 BC!

That brings us full circle back to Etsy, that hotbed of American creativity, where you can buy plain old, white paper lanterns transformed into “Hello Kitty” faces.

Hand-made Hello Kitty paper lanterns as seen at Etsy shop shelbynbosch..

There you have it. If you have seen crazy unusual paper lanterns in your wanderings, let me know. I’d love to see what you come up with. You can post it here any time. If you’re inspired by this post, visit the Luna Bazaar store and check out some of our more unusual designer paper lanterns, and see the latest must-have paper lantern fashion colors.

Décorez et Célébrez!

Dorothy & the Team at Luna Bazaar.

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