The Mystery surrounding strange lights seen hovering above Tunbridge Wells was solved this week when the objects were identified as Chinese lanterns.

Sightings of the orange spheres flooded into the Kent and Sussex Courier offices after it reported the phenomenon on Friday.

The bright lights seen in the sky over the bank holiday baffled residents, leading some to question whether we are alone in the universe.

But the Salomons centre this week said that paper lanterns released at a wedding celebration had sparked the UFO rumours.

Conference and events administrator Katy Webster said: "A couple got married here and had some Chinese paper sky lanterns. Basically the company comes in and light them and the heat makes them rise and fly off and away."

The Essex-based company which supplies the floating lights, Sky Lanterns, said it was used to people mistaking them for alien aircraft.

Manager Grant Barry said: "That was our first display in Kent but it does normally go a bit doolally on the phones. The company has been running for about three years and the first year it was like it the whole time. Someone from the MOD had to say they were not doing anything in the area. People are coming to understand what it is but it still raises a few eyebrows."

Remains of the 4ft high lanterns, made of flame retardant mulberry paper and bamboo, were found scattered across Paul White's garden in Fordcombe.

Mr White, of Fordcombe Road, said: "I found them on Sunday morning. There were these bamboo rings with some sort of camouflage sheet on it. They're pretty big things, about 67cm across, and dangerous if it had been dropping everywhere."

Some residents who witnessed the spectacle claimed they were floating between 1,000ft to 5,000ft, raising fears they could interfere with planes flying to and from nearby Gatwick airport.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Air pilot Ritchy Harbour, of Broom Lane, in Langton Green, witnessed a similar incident several weeks ago close to Stansted airport.

He said: "If it is made of bamboo the chances are they would probably go straight through the engine because they are quite strong and are designed to withstand something like a goose. But it certainly wouldn't do them any good. I didn't realise they were that big and if they were going a few thousand feet into the air it could cause problems with air traffic."

However on its website Sky Lanterns states the floating lights should not be released within five miles of an airport or during high winds and rain.

Despite strong evidence to suggest the lamps were the explanation for the bizarre sightings some still believed the theory was flawed.

Steve Thomas, from Langton Green, said: "If they were just lanterns then how would they be visible up to 30 miles away in Eastbourne?

"What also seems abnormal is the fact the orange objects seemed to hover and then go off in a Westerly direction extremely quickly. And if they were just lanterns how can they just disappear? Personally I think they were more than just lanterns or balloons and could show there is life elsewhere in the universe..."

Rodger Braidwood of Farnham Lane in Langton Green said: "We soon realised the lights were not stars and the pattern changed from a Plough look-a-like to more of a series of hot air balloons sweeping across the cloudy night sky."

Air cabin crew member Sarah Hoad said: "I find the explanation of lanterns quite hard to believe, as they would have to be very bright candles to illuminate the sky the way these lights did.

I suppose on the bright side the explanation of floating lanterns is less scary than us being visited by aliens!"

Stella Richardson, of Monteith Close, in Langton Green, said: "It had been suggested to us that what we were witnessing was part of a meteor shower... I certainly do not accept that it was anything to do with a firework display at the Salomon centre. Anybody who witnessed this very unusual and quite disturbing spectacle must be left wondering."

Nicola King, who watched the lights from Bidborough Ridge, said: "Looking on the internet it would appear the fire lanterns at Salomons are the most logical explanation although a very surreal experience that left us quite unnerved!"

Philip Madgwick, of Bowen Road, in Rusthall said: "Although they could have been Thai sky lanterns it would need someone to come forward to say where and when these were released as the way in which these objects travelled and then stopped would require an explanation."

Sharon Haffenden's daughter took a picture of the lights on her mobile phone: "She said they looked like they were rising up from the back fields and gathering with the other lights. They seemed to move then stop and wait for more lights that were rising up, then carry on moving," she said.