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Fun Lighting - Enjoying Camping After Dark

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Mar 2012; updated May 2023.

Camping and staying up late is all part of the fun for kids. Add some extra fun lighting for making your camping trips even more special.

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

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

We typically always have a campfire.  This provides a great ambience 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 hung from our windbreak poles.

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

Lanterns help keep fingers away from flames, reduce the chance of accidents, 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 lights

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 various designs to hang around your tent entrance, under any tarp shelter, or around your windbreaks.

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

Lights for Kids

All of the above will make your tent more fun.

Any child scared of the dark should be reassured by the lighting yet still able to take in the experience of camping and being out at night.

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

We sometimes take some glow sticks.  These provide some light but are more about the fun.  Both wrist bracelets are the larger lanyard ones that 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 be some oncoming people, bikes, scooters, and the occasional car.

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

glowing balloons

Glowing Balloons - Fun for after dark at the campsite

Save those sparklers

Sparklers are fun when camping too

Sparklers are fun when camping too

We return some sparklers 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 is 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 harm livestock.

Putting it to the test

Lighting after dark

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

On our first try with the solar-powered lights, we arrived at the campsite late (4 pm) in springtime, so we did not have enough 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 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).

Night Photos of your tent

Read this on how to create one of those glowing tent photos.