How Do You Make Ice Lanterns For Winter Festivals?

Intrigued by the enchanting glow of ice lanterns during winter festivals? Curious about how these ethereal creations are made? Look no further! This article will guide you through the mesmerizing process of crafting your very own ice lanterns, illuminating your winter nights with a touch of magic. From selecting the perfect molds to adding decorative elements, we will uncover the secrets behind this captivating winter tradition. So, prepare to embark on a frosty adventure and discover the art of creating ice lanterns that will leave your friends and family in awe.

Table of Contents

Materials Needed

To make ice lanterns for winter festivals, you will need the following materials:


Balloons will serve as the mold for creating the ice lanterns. Opt for high-quality balloons that are sturdy and can hold water without bursting.


Water is the main ingredient for making ice lanterns. Choose clean, filtered water to ensure the clarity of the ice. If you want to add a touch of color or sparkle to your ice lanterns, consider using distilled water or adding food coloring or glitter.

Freezer or outdoor freezing temperature

You will need a freezer or access to outdoor freezing temperatures to freeze the water-filled balloons. Make sure you have enough space in your freezer or a suitable outdoor area where the balloons can freeze undisturbed.

Bucket or large container

A bucket or large container will be used to hold the water and balloons while they freeze. Ensure that the container is deep enough to submerge the balloons partially in water.

Natural items for decoration

Gather natural items such as leaves, berries, flowers, or any other small decorative pieces you prefer. These items will be pressed onto the surface of the ice lanterns for a visually appealing effect.

Optional: Food coloring or glitter

If you want to add a vibrant pop of color or a touch of sparkle to your ice lanterns, consider using food coloring or glitter. These optional materials can be added to the balloons before filling them with water for a dazzling effect.

Preparing the Balloons

Before you can create your ice lanterns, you need to prepare the balloons. Follow these simple steps to get started:

Inflate the balloons

Take the balloons and inflate them to your desired size. Consider using various balloon sizes to create a visually interesting assortment of ice lanterns.

Tie the balloons securely

Once inflated, tie the balloons securely to prevent any air from escaping. Make sure the knots are tight to avoid any leaks during the freezing process.

Consider using various balloon sizes for variety

To add a dynamic element to your ice lantern display, use balloons of different sizes. Mixing small, medium, and large balloons will create an eye-catching arrangement that adds depth and variety to your winter festival decorations.

Optional: Add a drop of food coloring or glitter to the balloons for a colorful effect

If you want to infuse your ice lanterns with a splash of color or a sparkling shine, consider adding a drop of food coloring or glitter to the balloons before filling them with water. This will create a dazzling effect when the ice lanterns are illuminated.

Creating the Ice Lanterns

Now that your balloons are prepared, it’s time to create the ice lanterns. Follow these steps to bring your frozen creations to life:

Fill a bucket or large container with water

Take a bucket or a large container and fill it with water. Ensure that the water level is deep enough to partially submerge the balloons.

Place the tied balloons in the container

Gently place the tied balloons into the water-filled container, ensuring that they are fully submerged in the water. Make sure the balloons are evenly spaced apart to allow for easier removal later.

Ensure the balloons are partially submerged in the water

To achieve the desired shape of your ice lanterns, it’s important to ensure that the balloons are partially submerged in the water. The water level should reach about halfway up the balloons for optimal results.

Leave the balloons in the container outside to freeze or place in a freezer

Now, it’s time to let nature do its magic. If you have suitable freezing temperatures outdoors, leave the container outside until the water freezes solid. Alternatively, if you have enough space, you can place the container in a freezer for several hours or overnight.

Allow enough time for the balloons to freeze completely

The freezing time will vary depending on the size of your ice lanterns and the freezing conditions. Generally, it is recommended to leave the balloons in freezing temperatures for at least 24 hours or until the ice is fully frozen. To check if the ice is ready, gently touch the balloon. If it feels firm and solid, it is time to move on to the next step.

Removing the Ice Lanterns

Once the ice inside the balloons is completely frozen, it’s time to remove the balloons and reveal the stunning ice lanterns within. Follow these steps carefully to avoid any accidental damage:

Check if the ice is fully frozen by touching the balloon

Before removing the container from the freezer or outdoor freezing temperature, ensure that the ice is fully frozen by gently touching the balloon. If you feel any soft spots or if the ice gives a little, give it more time to freeze.

If frozen, remove the container from the freezer or outdoor freezing temperature

Once you are confident that the ice is fully frozen, carefully remove the container from the freezer or outdoor freezing temperature. Place it on a stable surface or bring it indoors if necessary.

Wait for a few minutes to let the ice lanterns thaw slightly

To make the balloon removal process easier, wait for a few minutes to allow the ice lanterns to thaw slightly. This will help separate the ice from the inside of the balloon.

Gently remove the balloons from the ice by slowly releasing air and peeling them away

Starting with one balloon at a time, gently release the air inside by carefully pressing on the knot or untwisting the opening. Slowly peel the deflated balloon away from the ice, being extremely cautious to avoid cracking or breaking the delicate ice walls. Repeat this process for each balloon until you have all your ice lanterns revealed.

Handle the ice lanterns carefully to avoid cracking or breaking

Once the balloons are removed, handle the ice lanterns with great care. The ice walls can be fragile, so avoid applying too much pressure or force. Hold the ice lanterns from the bottom or sides to avoid cracks or breakage.

Decorating the Ice Lanterns

Now that you have your stunning ice lanterns, it’s time to add some decorative touches. Here’s how you can enhance their visual appeal:

Collect natural items like leaves, berries, or flowers

Go outside and gather natural items such as leaves, berries, or flowers. Look for items with interesting shapes, colors, and textures that can be pressed onto the surface of the ice lanterns.

Press the natural items onto the surface of the ice lanterns

Take the gathered natural items and carefully press them onto the surface of the ice lanterns. You can arrange them in any pattern or design you desire. Pressing them gently will ensure that they adhere well to the ice.

Arrange the decorations creatively to enhance the visual appeal

Be creative and arrange the decorations in an aesthetically pleasing way. Consider creating patterns, decorating the ice lanterns symmetrically, or arranging the decorations in a random yet visually appealing manner. Let your imagination guide you in enhancing the beauty of your ice lanterns.

Ensure the decorations adhere well to the ice

To ensure that the decorations stay in place, gently press them onto the ice and hold them for a few seconds. This will help them adhere securely. Take your time in this step to create a captivating and visually stunning display.

Final Steps

With your ice lanterns beautifully decorated, it’s time to find the perfect spot to showcase them. Follow these final steps to complete the process:

Place the ice lanterns in a suitable location

Find suitable locations to display your ice lanterns. Outdoor walkways, tables, or any other area where they can be easily seen and appreciated are ideal choices. Consider the overall aesthetic and lighting of the location to complement the ice lanterns’ ethereal glow.

Consider using battery-operated candles or LED lights for illumination

To illuminate your ice lanterns, opt for safe alternatives such as battery-operated candles or LED lights. These will provide a warm, mesmerizing glow without the risk of melting the ice or causing any accidents. Avoid using open flames inside the ice lanterns to preserve their structural integrity.

Avoid using open flames inside the ice lanterns as they can melt the ice

While the glow of a candle inside an ice lantern may seem enticing, using open flames is not recommended. The heat produced by the flame can melt the ice, compromising the integrity of the lantern and potentially causing accidents. Stick to the safer options mentioned above.

Enjoy the ethereal glow of the ice lanterns during winter festivals

Once everything is in place, take a step back and admire the enchanting beauty of your ice lanterns. Watch as their ethereal glow illuminates the winter nights and brings a touch of magic to your winter festivals. Enjoy the mesmerizing ambiance they create and the delight they bring to all who see them.

Tips and Precautions

As with any craft, making ice lanterns requires some tips and precautions to ensure a successful and safe experience. Here are some useful pointers to keep in mind:

Control the thickness of the ice walls by adjusting the freezing time

If you want thicker ice walls for your lanterns, keep them in the freezing temperatures for a longer period. Conversely, if you prefer thinner walls, reduce the freezing time accordingly. Experimentation will help you achieve your desired results.

Avoid using hot water to speed up freezing, as it may cause the balloons to burst

To expedite the freezing process, resist the temptation to use hot water. Hot water can cause the balloons to burst, leading to a messy and disappointing outcome. Stick to using cool or room temperature water for best results.

Take precautions while handling sharp or fragile ice lanterns

Ice lanterns can be sharp or delicate, so it’s important to handle them with caution. Wear protective gloves or wrap a cloth around your hands while placing or moving them to avoid injury or accidental breakage. Safety should always come first.

Secure the ice lanterns properly to prevent them from toppling over in windy conditions

If you plan to display your ice lanterns outdoors, ensure they are properly secured to prevent them from toppling over in windy conditions. Use sturdy bases, weighted containers, or other methods to keep them steady and in place. Unwanted accidents can be prevented with proper precautions.

Follow local regulations and guidelines for outdoor ice displays

Before showcasing your ice lanterns in public areas, check local regulations and guidelines regarding outdoor ice displays. Some areas may have specific rules or restrictions to ensure safety and compliance. It’s always important to respect these regulations and promote a safe environment for everyone.

Alternative Variations

If you want to explore different creative possibilities, here are some alternative variations you can try when making ice lanterns for your winter festivals:

Try using different shapes of molds instead of balloons

Instead of using balloons as molds, experiment with different shapes to create unique ice lanterns. Silicone molds, plastic containers, or even unconventional objects like plastic soda bottles can be used to freeze the water into various shapes. Let your imagination run wild!

Experiment with different colors and patterns by using colored water or adding food coloring

For a more visually striking effect, use colored water or add food coloring to the water before filling the molds. This will result in ice lanterns with vibrant hues that add a playful touch to your winter festivities. Mix and match colors or create stunning patterns for an eye-catching display.

Add small objects like plastic toys, glitter, or sequins inside the balloons before freezing

To incorporate an element of surprise or sparkle, consider placing small objects like plastic toys, glitter, or sequins inside the balloons before filling them with water. As the ice forms, these objects will be trapped inside, creating fascinating visual elements when illuminated.

Use different freezing methods, such as using ice lantern molds or ice blocks

Expand your ice lantern repertoire by experimenting with different freezing methods. Invest in ice lantern molds that come in various shapes and sizes, or try your hand at creating larger ice blocks that can be chiseled into intricate designs. Explore different freezing techniques to add versatility and create stunning ice lanterns.

How to Maintain Ice Lanterns

To ensure your ice lanterns maintain their beauty and last throughout your winter festivities, here are some maintenance tips to follow:

Avoid placing ice lanterns in direct sunlight to prevent melting

Direct sunlight can accelerate the melting process, causing your ice lanterns to lose their shape and beauty prematurely. Avoid placing them in areas exposed to direct sunlight and opt for shaded or covered locations instead.

Reposition or move the ice lanterns to shaded areas if necessary

If you notice the ice lanterns starting to melt or lose their shape due to direct sunlight or changing weather conditions, proactively reposition or move them to shaded areas. This will help prolong their lifespan and ensure they continue to be a captivating feature of your winter festival.

Refresh the decorations by carefully adding new natural items as needed

Over time, the natural items decorating your ice lanterns may deteriorate or fall off. To keep your ice lanterns looking fresh and enchanting, carefully add new natural items throughout the duration of your winter festival. Simply press them onto the ice surface and adjust the arrangement as desired.

Monitor the lanterns regularly and discard if they show signs of significant melting

Regularly monitor your ice lanterns to ensure they remain intact and withstand the elements. If you notice significant melting, cracking, or instability, it may be time to discard the lanterns. Safety should always be a priority, so err on the side of caution if any issues arise.


Making ice lanterns for winter festivals is a delightful and creative activity that can bring a touch of magic to any celebration. By following the outlined steps, you can create enchanting decorations that captivate the eyes and warm the hearts of all who behold them.

Remember to exercise caution and take necessary safety measures while handling ice lanterns. These delicate creations require gentle care to preserve their beauty and structural integrity. And most importantly, enjoy the ethereal glow these ice lanterns provide, as they become a centerpiece of wonder during your winter festivities.