Spokesman for the IAA Paddy Kennedy said the lanterns have become hugely popular in recent years.
However Mr Kennedy says the lanterns pose a very real danger on two fronts – to aircraft and to the emergency services including the coastguard.
“We certainly don’t want to be seen as party poopers but the release of these lanterns cause two very real dangers.
“The first is that they can be ingested into the engines of aircraft and some contain metal parts. This could pose a very real danger for aircraft.
“Also it has been the case on previous occasions that these lights can be mistaken for distress signals and lead to false alarms for emergency crews,” he said.
Thousands of the lanterns will be released by people tonight.
And with Donegal having its own airport at Carrickfin and being situated close to Derry Airport, there is a fear that lanterns could cause havoc.
The lanterns, which are brought up into the air by the heat from small candles inside, can reach heights of up to 1,000 feet and travel for miles.
However Mr Kennedy warned that unless people have sought permission to release the lanterns from the IAA, it is actual illegal to do so.
“It is too late now for people to seek our permission to release these lanterns so we would ask them not to.
“By law people should be contacting us and we will review each application.
“We will look at each proposed release and determine if it is too close to an airport to cause a danger.
“We would not consider any more than 50 lanterns in one release but in theory even the release of one lantern should be notified to ourselves.
“We don’t want to spoil people’s New Year celebrations but we also want to ensure that the dangers posed by these lanterns is not realised,” he said.