Tag Archives: lantern festival

Illegal? Update on the floating sky lanterns


Turns out some bucket list items are so much harder to accomplish than they seem at first. Releasing a floating (sky) lantern is one of those difficult ones.

Made popular by increased awareness of global festivals and the movie Tangled, releasing floating sky lanterns seems like a great summer activity… that is, until I found out how complicated it can be to find a place to release them.

My future sister-in-law gave me a bunch of lanterns for Christmas, so I was really excited to release them this year. However, I’d heard that it might be illegal in some places (especially if there’s a burn ban in effect), so I thought I’d ask the authorities before I release the lanterns.

Where I live, even fireworks are illegal unless you have a permit for a special event, and open flames can be an issue if not attended at all times (as the flame would be in a sky lantern because it flies away from you).

When I contacted the Seattle Fire Department, they emailed me this response:

The use of “Sky Lanterns” violates several sections of the Seattle Fire Code (SFC). When used with a flame these devices are considered Recreational Fires, as defined in Section 302.1 of the SFC. Section 307.5 requires that Recreational Fires “shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished…” and that they “shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.”

Since sky lanterns cannot be used in compliance with these requirements, they are not allowed in the City of Seattle.

For more information, please contact the Code Compliance Section in the Fire Marshal’s Office. [from a June 24, 2016 email]

There are lantern festivals in the USA, but when I looked at the most popular one I noticed they have several locations listed that currently (and usually) have fire burn bans due to the heat. Many states and even entire countries have banned sky lanterns due to the fire risk.

Since I believe in and encourage responsible bucket listing, and never advocate disregard for the laws of any country you travel or live in, I’ll have to wait on (or maybe remove) this list item.

Please let me hear your story:

  • Have you had to choose between a bucket list item and doing what was right?
  • Have you had to give up a list item for any reason?