Fun Lighting – Enjoying Camping After Dark

November 15, 2018

Part of the fun for kids when camping is experiencing things that are different to the norm.  A big part of that is staying up and being out in the dark.

Lighting can have a big part to play creating the atmosphere and excitement.

We typically always have a campfire.  This provides a great ambiance as well as heat.  However, creating a campfire is not always possible, and is not the only way to light your camp.


The campfire is the champion camping lighting for atmosphere, but there are other sources of light that can help brighten up your family camp.

Tea Light Lanterns

Tea light lanterns provide a safe way to get that warm-light atmosphere, and can be easily hung from windbreaks and tarp shelters.

We also put up tea light lanterns when camping.  They are great sat on the camp table, and also hung from our wind break poles.

They provide a warm welcome to our camp area, and also provide a ‘beacon’ to our tent when walking back from the campsite facilities.

Lanterns help keep fingers away from flames, reduce the chance of accident, and keep the flame out of the wind.

Using citronella candles has the dual benefit of lighting and keeping the bugs at bay.  Great for on a summer’s night whilst sitting out and enjoying a drink.

LED Lighting

Solar powered lights provide a practical way of lighting at camp. Lots of fun designs to help brighten your tent.

The availability of low powered, solar charged, LED lighting provides another fun alternative.

You can get all sorts of designs that you can hang around your tent entrance, under any tarp shelter, or around your wind breaks.

They can also be used inside your tent to provide additional lighting.

Lights for Kids

All of the above lighting will make your tent more fun than other tents, where families are in the dark except for the harsh white light of an electric lantern. Any child that is scared of the dark should be reassured of the lighting, yet still able to take in the experience of camping and being out at night.

Giving your child their own lighting will take things one step further.

We always try and take some glow sticks.  These provide some light but are more about the fun.  Both wrist bracelets are the larger lanyard ones are ideal.

Besides being fun for the kids they also provide some extra piece of mind for parents as you can see your child and others can see them.  We found this particularly useful on larger sites, letting the kids go off and explore but still being able to spot them, and also on busy campsites where there may some oncoming people, bikes, scooters, and the occasional car.

Another fun after dark item your kids will love are the new glowing balloons.  These have a little LED inside to illuminate them.

Glowing Balloons – Fun for after dark at the campsite


Save those sparklers

Sparklers are fun when camping too

We keep some sparklers back from bonfire night and sometimes take them to camp.

If you’re on a campsite with lots of space (i.e. you have a big field where nothing can catch fire), then these are great fun.

LED Tent Pegs


This is such a good idea to avoid tripping over tent lines in the dark.  Ideally placed on lines at the tent entrance.  Not only safe but fun lighting too – you could almost create a runway into your tent!

The pegs typically run off a small watch type of battery (LR44), which are included with the tent pegs.

Chinese Lanterns – A Big NO

We do NOT recommend chinese lanterns.

I have seen videos of lanterns setting tents on fire.  Whilst that may be a rare occurrence, it has happened.  For the sake of some after dark fun, the risk of serious injury or even death to other campers is not worth the risk.

There are also valid concerns from farmers as when the metal frame ends up in a field it can be harmful to livestock.

Putting it to the test

We already had tea-light lanterns and decided to invest in some solar powered LED lights (the star shaped ones).

On our first try of the solar powered lights we arrived at the campsite late in the day (4 pm) at spring time, so not a long time to charge the solar lights.

Once it got dark the lights came on (they automatically run through different flashing ‘modes’, but you can select just one if you wish), much to our surprise.

When it was time for bed we brought them into the tent to provide some background lighting for the kids.  Even with only a few hours of charge, they remained on through almost the entire night.

We also bought the glowing balloons, which were a great hit with the kids (and proved to be a good nightlight for the youngest as it stayed on all night).

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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