Instead of sitting in front of the television at night, your friends and family can join for fun games to play outside in the dark. You don’t always need sunlight in order to enjoy outdoor activities. Here are some fun games to playoutside in the dark including flashlight tag, ring toss, kick the can, constellation hunt, and many others.

Flashlight Tag

To play this version of tag, give each player a flashlight and have the players get into pairs. Each pair needs to come up with its own special flashlight signal. For example, one long flash followed by two short flashes can be a signal.

Have each pair split up and go to opposite ends of your backyard. Make sure your backyard is dark enough that the team members cannot see each other. Each player must try to find and tag his partner by using the flashlight signal. The first pair to accomplish this wins the game.

Ring Toss Games to Play Outside in the Dark

To play ring toss at night, you need to get a bunch of glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Give all the players an equal number of necklaces. You also need a skinny flashlight for this game. Push the bottom of the flashlight into the ground so that it is shining upward. Have all the players take turns tossing their necklaces at the flashlight. The player who gets the most necklaces around the flashlight is the winner.

No flashlight? No problem. Fill up a recycled one-liter bottle with water, toss a glow stick in it and seal it up. Use this to toss your rings around after dark.

Kick the Can

To start this classic game, place an empty can on the ground in a well-lighted area. Light up that can by using a recycled peanut butter jar with a glow stick in it! Pick one person to be “it.” Have that person count to 30 while other players run off into the darkness and hide.

If the “it” person finds someone, he must race back to the can and tag it while saying that player’s name. However, if the other player reaches the can first and kicks it, then she can run and hide again. In addition, a player can kick the can at any time to free players who have been found. The game ends when “it” tags out everyone. The first player tagged is the next person to be “it.”

Constellation Hunt

You can have fun and learn something while playing constellation hunt. Before starting this game, players need to do some research. You can spend a few minutes studying constellations in an astronomy book or on the internet prior to the game.

When all the players are ready, give them pads of paper and pencils. Have everyone go into the backyard and look up at the sky. Players need to write down all the constellations that they can find. The player who finds the most constellations in 10 minutes is the winner. However, that player needs to point out the constellations to confirm his victory.

Museum After Dark

Museum After Dark is a good game to play when your outdoor space is limited. Choose one player to be the “museum guide” and give this person a flashlight. The rest of the players spread out in the playing space and strike an interesting pose as if they are pieces of art.

The museum guide then goes to each piece of “art” and looks it over with her flashlight, describing the piece of “art” in funny ways, but without touching it. If the museum guide can make the “art” laugh or move, the “art” becomes the new museum guide.

Sleeping Pirate

Sleeping Pirate is a good game to teach listening skills and stealthiness. Choose one player to be the “pirate” and give him a flashlight. You’ll also need a ball, bucket, or another object to represent the “treasure.”

The pirate sits at one end of the playing area, with the “treasure” sitting in front of him or her. The other players line up on the other end of the playing area. To play, the players each try to sneak up and steal the “treasure” without tipping off the pirate. If the pirate hears a sound, he shines the flashlight in that direction. If the flashlight beam tags a player, he must go back to the starting line. The first player to nab the treasure without alerting the pirate becomes the new pirate.

Glow-in-the-Dark Freeze Tag Games to Play Outside in the Dark

This version of freeze tag requires to glow sticks bracelets or necklaces. Children wear glowing bracelets or necklaces as they race around. The person designated as “it” wears a glow stick on her head, or several glow sticks to make her stand out from the others. If the “it” person tags you, you must freeze, until another team member touches you and sets you free again.

Hide and Seek

Darkness offers plenty of places to hide, including in plain sight. Give children flashlights to help guide their way. They can also use flashlights to signal their location if they get tired of hiding or want to tease the person trying to find them.

Capture the Flag

This classic outdoor game is made even more fun and challenging in the dark. Divide players into two teams, and give each team a glow stick wrapped in a colored flag to illuminate the flag slightly.

Divide the playing area into two sides. If possible, mark the boundary with cones, a rope, or a similar object. If you have enough resources, have each player wear a scarf or bandanna of the same color as their flag so everyone knows who is on what team.

The object of the game is to infiltrate the opposing team’s side of the field of play and capture their flag. Anyone who is tagged while on the opposing team’s side must stay in “prison” until the game is over. The game ends when a player successfully captures a flag and makes it back to her side of the field or when all members of a team have been captured and are in prison.

Capture the Treasure

Mark the “castle” with lanterns or candles in holders. Place the “treasure” in the middle of this area. You can decorate the treasure with glow sticks. Divide children into teams. One team defends the castle while the other tries to sneak up and capture the treasure. After one team is successful, the teams switch roles.

Treasure Hunt

Send kids on a hunt for treasure in the dark. They can use flashlights to search in trees, behind bushes, and against fences and house walls. For extra fun, wrap the treasures in the glow-in-the-dark paper, use glow-in-the-dark paint on rocks, or write clues in a glow-in-the-dark marker.

Try putting glow sticks in yellow plastic easter eggs to create your treasure and hide them around the yard.


For this game, you’ll only need one flashlight. Pick one player to be “it.” That player takes a flashlight, closes his eyes, and counts to 30 while all the other players scatter around the field or yard. Once the player with the flashlight is ready, he goes around shining the flashlight on the players. Players caught with the light must be standing still like statues, otherwise, they are out. The last player remaining in the game wins and becomes “it.”

Summer is a great time to head outside and play. Even after the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t have to stop. Warm summer nights make playing in the dark as much fun as playing in the light–and there’s no risk of sunburn. To fill your summer nights with fun, plan a few fun games to play outside in the dark to keep your family or campers entertained.


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