A springtime table setting with flowers and tapered outdoor candles. Source: Pexels

Illuminating summer nights with outdoor candles

6 mins read

There's something magical about the flicker of candlelight under the open sky. Whether it’s a laid-back BBQ or an elegant outdoor dinner, candles add a touch of warmth and sophistication to any occasion. But not all candles are fit for the great outdoors. Choosing the right type can enhance the ambiance while ensuring safe use outdoors and the candle’s longevity for the duration of your event. 

A springtime table setting with flowers and tapered outdoor candles. Source: Pexels

In this guide, we’ll explore how to select and style the best outdoor candles that not only set the mood but also stand up to the elements. Get ready to light up your next outdoor gathering with confidence, ensuring those little flames brilliantly punctuate your evening without a hitch. 

Choosing the right outdoor candles

Picking the perfect candles for your outdoor spaces isn't just about snagging something that looks good. It's about a strategic mix of wax types, scents and colours that not only enhance the vibe but also fit the function of your event. Here's a practical guide to getting your candle game spot-on, so your settings are as functional as they are photogenic.

Wax: the foundation of a good outdoor candle

The type of wax can greatly influence the performance of your candles outdoors, affecting everything from burn time to how well they stand up against the evening breeze:

Soy wax

For the sustainable at heart, soy wax is your ally. It burns slowly and relatively cleanly, making it perfect for those long evenings under the stars. It’s great for table settings, especially in glass enclosures that shield the flame from any pesky breezes.

Paraffin wax

Need a bright light for shorter spells? Paraffin wax burns bright and fast. It’s ideal for lighting up pathways or it can be placed around pools to enhance safety and visibility. Just remember, it can be a bit smoky if your candle wick isn’t trimmed to the right level, so keep it away from the dining table.

Beeswax

If you're battling the breeze, beeswax is your champion. With a delightful natural honey scent and a high melting point, it’s fantastic for perimeter lighting where you need a steady, strong flame that won’t easily be snuffed out by the wind.

<span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">A wedding reception breakfast with tables lined with outdoor candles in glass jars. Source: </span><a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/table-settings-3038119/" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/table-settings-3038119/"><span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">Pexels</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">.</span>

Scents—setting the mood and warding off pests

Choosing the right scents can transform the outdoor experience, providing both aromatic pleasure and, sometimes, functional benefits like insect repellence:

Citronella

The go-to scent for pest control, citronella is renowned for keeping mosquitos away, especially if the scent has been registered as a biocide with HSE. You can use citronella candles strategically placed around dining and lounging areas to help create a bug-free zone without using harsh chemicals.

Lavender

Known for its relaxing properties, lavender is perfect for creating a calming outdoor sanctuary. It's ideal for intimate gatherings or places where people might lounge after dinner. Lavender also may help deter moths and other insects, which is a bonus for late-night events.

Eucalyptus

Another insect deterrent, eucalyptus has a fresh, clean scent that’s ideal for refreshing summer nights. It's especially effective for larger gatherings where food is served as it helps keep the air fresh and the pests at bay.

Colours—enhancing the visual appeal

The choice of candle colours should complement your outdoor décor and the occasion:

White

A classic choice, white candles fit into any setting, reflecting light beautifully and adding a soft, clean look to your décor. They're particularly striking when used in large numbers to create paths or define spaces within your garden or patio.

Vibrant colours

Bright yellows, blues or greens can add a playful touch to daytime gatherings, matching flowers or outdoor furnishings. These colours are fantastic for themed parties or celebrations, adding a pop of joy and energy.

Dark colours

Rich, deep tones like burgundy, navy or even black can bring a sophisticated vibe to evening events. They’re a striking contrast to sunset backdrops that eventually blend into the night sky—putting the focus on the flame. They’re perfect for formal gatherings or when you want to evoke a sense of luxury and exclusivity.


The bottom line? Consider the event's purpose, the expected conditions and your overall decor theme to guide your wax, scent and colour choices. Each candle needs to not only look good, but also perform excellently throughout the evening.

Styling outdoor candles 

When setting the scene for an outdoor gathering, the way you display your candles can dramatically enhance both the look and functionality of your space. From elegant glass jars to creative table settings, here are some tips to help you use candles to elevate your outdoor decor effectively.

Glass jars and candle holders

Glass jars are a smart choice for outdoor candle lighting. They shield your flames from unexpected gusts and keep the glow going strong. For a casual backyard bash, mason jars give off a laid-back vibe, while sleek, clear glass holders set the stage for a more elegant affair. For a festive touch, fill the bottom of jars with seasonal decorations like sand, pine cones or cranberries to stabilise the candle. But, of course, ensure these items are placed well below the candle flame to prevent fire hazards. 

Looking for something a bit more structured? Candle holders come in all shapes and sizes. Deploy tall, robust lanterns along walkways to light the route or around the perimeter of your dance floor to keep the boogie going safely under the stars. Smaller tealight holders are perfect for dotting around tables or along railings, adding a sprinkle of light without stealing the show.

Table settings and matching decorations

When it comes to table settings, think of your candles as part of the conversation. Match them to your event’s colour theme and décor for a look that feels intentional, not incidental. Going minimal? Keep it clean with monochrome candles and simple holders. Feeling festive? Mix colours and play with heights to bring your tables to life.


Centrepieces are your visual anchors, so make them count. Cluster candles of various sizes and shapes to create depth, or line them up for a modern, streamlined arrangement. Don’t shy away from incorporating natural elements like stones, wood or even water features, which can amplify the outdoor essence, blurring the lines between nature and nurture.

With these tips, your outdoor candles will transform your space into an inviting, stylish haven that your guests won’t want to leave.

<span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">A cosy garden set-up with glasses of wine and outdoor candles positioned on a tray. Source: </span><a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/wine-glasses-on-table-near-pillows-1705716/" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/wine-glasses-on-table-near-pillows-1705716/"><span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">Pexels</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-fragment="1" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">.</span>

Safety tips for outdoor candles 

When it's time to bring some twinkle to your twilight gatherings, making sure your candlelight doesn't turn into a firelight is key. Here’s how to keep things lit—safely.

  1. Solid grounding: Always place candles on stable surfaces. A wobbly table and candles don’t mix unless you're looking for drama. Use holders with a hefty base to prevent any tipsy-turvy moments, especially in breezy conditions.
  2. Shelter the flame: Think of your candles like a VIP: Very Important Flame. Guard them from the wind with chic lanterns or sturdy enclosed holders. This keeps the flame steady and the sparks contained, dramatically reducing the "oops" factor.
  3. Keep it non-flammable: Love mixing candles with décor? Make sure those pretty tablecloths and drapes are flame-retardant. It's all fun and games until something catches fire, and suddenly your party is too lit.
  4. Traffic control: Place your candles where they won’t get knocked over. Off the beaten path is best, away from elbows and tails—because pets and parties often involve unpredictable movements.
  5. Stay on watch: Never leave your candles burning unattended. At the end of the night, make sure all flames are extinguished. Better yet, keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water handy, just in case your night tries to go out with a bang.

With these tips, your candles will cast just the right light on your outdoor soirees, ensuring that the only thing burning is the mood, not the tablecloth.

Light up your outdoor spaces with these tips

To sum up, choosing the right candles for your outdoor events is all about striking the perfect balance between form and function. Opt for waxes that suit your event's duration, pick scents that enhance the mood while keeping pests away and select colours that match your theme. With these tips on outdoor candles, your gatherings will shine brightly, creating a memorable ambiance that perfectly complements the setting. Ready to light up your next event? Let's make it spectacular.

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