How to Light a Pumpkin for Halloween

Once you've carved the pumpkin and hollowed it out, adding lighting is a very important part of creating the atmosphere. Traditionally, a candle is inserted into the pumpkin but there are also other possibilities for creating the light inside. This article will guide you through some suggestions for lighting your Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns.


  1. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 1
    Finish carving your pumpkin. When carving the pumpkin, consider where to place the access hole for adding lighting:
    • A bottom hole is ideal for windy, blustery nights. The surrounding pumpkin will protect the lighting from being blown out and the hole is placed on the ground or a solid surface.
    • A hole on the top of the pumpkin, which looks like a lid, using the dried stem as a handle. This is the old-fashioned way.
  2. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 2
    Use candles. Candles are the traditional way of lighting a pumpkin and they're still much in use today.
    • For the pumpkin with a simple base hole: Light the candle first.
    • Place the pumpkin straight over the candle wherever you'd like the pumpkin sitting.
    • For the pumpkin with the top lid: don't try to light the candle first and then stick it down inside. You can burn your hand trying to do this. Place a non-lit candle in through the lid space. Make sure it's sitting firmly on the base of the pumpkin and will not fall over.
    • Light the candle. Don't try to reach from the lid. Instead, using a long fireplace match or a longer lighter, go through the front of the pumpkin, where it's carved.
    • You won't burn yourself using this easy method.
  3. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 3
    Create a chimney hole to release the heat from the inside for either style of pumpkin. The candle flame heat rises and will eventually burn a hole in the top of the pumpkin and start cooking the pumpkin from the inside out. To deal with this, light the pumpkin's candle and leave it to burn for a few minutes. You'll then see where the heated area is forming on the top of the pumpkin.
    • Use the lid-cutter saw and cut out a little edge at the top. Remove the piece.
    • There will be be a little chimney left to release the heat.
  4. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 4
    Use a battery powered light. If you're worried about the flames harming pets with their long tails or kids with their cloaks dangling around, a battery powered light can provide a safe alternative, and they're inexpensive. You don't have to worry about leaving these unattended, and they won't blow out with the wind.
    • There are several different types of battery powered lights on the market. Some have regular white glowing lights, while others have a red glow, which can mimic a candle flickering in the pumpkin.
    • Kids love the rainbow glow light. It's a good one for a monster pumpkin for a spooky effect.
    • Place them in the pumpkin through the available hole.
  5. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 5
    Consider using other types of lights. Be creative and use other lights you have around the place, such as flashlights, lamp lights, ball lights, etc. Just be sure to tuck away any cords if you use a corded light. LED lights made for bikes, headlamps, etc., can make cool pumpkin lights.
    • Set up a ball light by turning the switch on and then placing it flat inside the pumpkin.
  6. Image titled Light a Pumpkin for Halloween Step 6
    Enjoy your lighted pumpkin display. If you can, remember to take photos as lit pumpkins make for memorable photos.


  • Candles, tea lights, and votives are still a very traditional way to go. However, battery powered lights are much safer with young children or when high winds are going on. These lights often come in different colors as well and may flicker for an eerie effect!
  • For larger pumpkins, consider combining several artificial lights to create interesting effects. For example, using 2 blinking lights set at different blink cycles and 2 rainbow glow lights set at different color cycles will create an unusual 'fire' effect.
  • Rub cinnamon or nutmeg on the inside of the pumpkin using candles for lighting; it will release a wonderful aroma of pumpkin pie!
  • If using a candle inside the jack-o-lantern, light it and let it burn for a minute or two. Then take the lid off; there will be a dark spot on the bottom of the lid from the candle smoke, so you know where to cut the smoke hole or chimney.
  • Orange and black candles are great for Halloween Spirit.
  • Go see How To Make Pumpkin Candles


  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Make sure that you when lighting the candle you are far away from garden leaves and dried grass which could catch on fire.
  • Watch to make sure you don't leave the candles open flame to burn by itself start a fire on carpets or curtains.
  • Don't touch the candle flame; it will burn and hurt you.
  • Make sure that candle is securely placed inside pumpkin so that it cannot tip over and start a fire. Use a large flat bottomed candle for this.
  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water on hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Carved pumpkins
  • Candles
  • Long candle lighter
  • Lid-cutter saw
  • Battery powered pumpkin lamps

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Halloween Pumpkins