Pingxi, a Taiwanese district known for its old train tracks and lantern launchings, hosts the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival annually to celebrate the last day of the Lunar New Year by releasing thousands of lanterns  each carrying its flame into the night.

The former coal-mining town is lined with workshops which helps visitors build lanterns with paper and glue, but critics have said the event is has become unsustainable  as up to 600,000 half-burnt lanterns crash back to earth into surrounding mountains.

Sky lanterns were invented in ancient China between AD 220-265 by military strategist Zhuge Liang to transmit information and first introduced in Taiwan in the 19th century. They were originally released as prayers for the coming year at the beginning of the spring planting season.

All photos: Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

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