Two new triazole-pyridine-bistetrazolate ligands were synthesized via a versatile procedure that allows for further derivatization; their corresponding homoleptic tris-ligand nona-coordinated lanthanide complexes are highly luminescent in the solid state and in a PVA polymeric matrix with measured values for the luminescence quantum yield of 70(7) and 98(9)% for Eu III and TbIII, respectively. This journal is © the Partner Organisations 2014.