Last night I went to the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. The festival takes place over several days, near the end of Chinese New Year. During the festival, you can release a sky lantern. It is made of paper, at the base, there is some metal wire holding flammable material in place. The lanterns work like hot air balloons, so when you're ready you light the material, hold the lantern on the ground until the heat collects and expands the lantern, and then release.
There are vendors up and down the crowded streets selling these lanterns in many colors: Blue, yellow, pink, rainbow, etc. After you purchase yours you write your wishes on it with markers or brush/ink. When you release the lanterns it then carries your wishes to the heavens.
It's an amazing scene to see as you walk amongst the crowds, there are food vendors everywhere, and lanterns being released from just about any open spot on the ground. We found a quiet spot up the hill from the crowds and set off our lantern.
Every 20 minutes, there is also a large group release. During the setup time, bands play a song while the next batch of participants finds their spots in the release area. Then someone walks quickly through handing out the lanterns. You're given some time to write on them. There's also a giant one that public officials write on to release with the group. After a small speech by the people writing on the larger one, the lights are dimmed. Men with torches quickly light all the lanterns. Then you hold them down with your foot, waiting for the count. Suddenly 50-some lanterns are ascending into the night sky.
Overall it was a beautiful night, very peaceful to watch them all fly.