Lots and lots of people are seeing strange lights all over the world. Here in the UK, there are new sightings on an almost daily basis – but what are they?

Below is one possible explanation, and one that I personally believe is the cause of 99.9% of all the sightings. I know this will open up a debate, and I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but without solid video proof, Chinese style lanterns are probably the best explanation.


The heavenly lantern festival takes place once a year, and usually held 15 days after the Chinese New Year. Historically, paper lanterns where used to send messages over the enemy lines.

Thanks to David for the original link, and thanks to all the sighting reports, comments and feedback. Please check the Similar Posts links below, or try searching Cryptoworld for Lights, Lanterns or UFOs for more information.

Written by CW Staff

In the late 80s I started investigating UFOs and crop circles and joined the CCCS (Centre for Crop Circle Studies) and a local group researching strange sightings and reports along the south coast of Dorset (UK). In the early ’90s I started my own research group called SPS (Strange Phenomena Studies), this was renamed in 2004 to Cryptoworld.

This article has 8 comments

  1. Maureen

    My husband and I have seen Orange Glowing Balls in the sky over the Bay in Torquay on 3 occasions, I am afraid I must disagree with your explanation that they these Orange Glowing Balls seen over the UK are probably Chinese Lanterns.

    The video clip shows random clusters of Lanterns rising into the sky, the Orange Glowing Balls that we have seen are strategically placed with exactly the same degree of space between each, they also break away to form triangles, far to intelligent for Lanterns, and they follow each other in a line (like a convoy).

    I can understand large amounts of Lanterns being released in Taipei at Festival time, but who would be realising them all over the British Isles throughout the year?

  2. Nick

    After seeing the lights fromHammersmith bridge looking east, It certainly looks like these could be an explanation. The motion and appearance of them is very similar to what we saw.

  3. sarah

    We released chinese lanterns in the british isles in september last year for someones birthday, three were released not at the same time and I agree when they are high up in the wind curents they will move in weird ways often mistaken for ufos. We joked that people would think ours would be ufos.

  4. Michael

    Nah, these were not the objects I saw. I saw 4 bright orange plane like figures. They were very high in the sky and flew in a formation. They were also crossing at points. These lanterns could not move fast enough or perform the complex flying that these objects did.

  5. Maryam

    Walthamstow, London. At 7pm tonight 1st January 2010 I saw whilst putting out rubbish, a bright orange fire like object. It moved silently above me about low flying plane height and went in a south easterly direction. It seemed to flicker and glow like fire but I couldn’t see clear flames licking. My son also witnesed it, thought it was meteor. I went in and came out 3-5 mins later to put out another bag of rubbish, naturally looked up and saw exactly the same thing, It was like a deja vu but this was another one I was sure as the first surely could’nt make it round so quickly, and why? As it disappeared off I went in agan. Returned 5 mins later and looked up, but nothing, then looked to the south east and saw both the orange lights, one above the other, the lower one to the right of the other and both were completely stationary almost like they were looking at me, a weird feeling I got. They then disappeared off again to the south east.

  6. Gill

    Last night (18th Sept 10) I saw two orange balls pass over my house at about 9pm, with aout 10 minutes between them. At first I thought it was a large ballon then I thought it was a plane on fire! I rushed out and it passed silently from south to north at a fairly low height. Ten minutes later exactly the same. I then got my binocs and camera ready but there were no more. VERY STRANGE!!!

  7. Don

    same here. i was standing outside with my wife around 9 at night having a smoke and this orangish/redish ball of light passed over my house headed in a straight line and kept going as far as i could see into the distance. really weird. no noise. nothing. just a light. never saw it again.

  8. Mike

    was pulling the curtains in Clapham Junction tonight looking east towards central London. Saw two orange lights in the sky moveing west. Thats the flight path into Heathrow and also helicopter route to the landing pad in Wandsworth. At first I thought they must be military helicopters but they looked strange. They moved quickly at first then moved south west gaining height. They were very clearly visible between the backdrop of the clouds. Then the light went out on one but could still see the black silhouette, followed shortly by the other. At that point they both picked up speed again towards Clapham Common and descended to about 2 streets away. They looked like some kind of ballons, much much larger that a kite type flare. I must watch too many movies but it looked like aliens having a look, but to be honest they could have been those lanterns that ran out of steam and came down. Didn’t go out for a look but will check it out on the way to work in the morning….took some photos, very wierd…