50 Things: Night-time adventures

Playing and dancing in the floodlights at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Just because the sun’s gone done, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun outside. These are some of our favourite challenges for darker evenings.

Play tapping sticks
Playing hide and seek at night means you can’t rely on your eyes to do the finding – with this version you use your ears instead. Grab some warm clothes, two sticks and head outdoors. Once they’ve found their hiding place, the hider taps the two sticks together every few seconds. The seeker can use the sound to find them.

Shadow dance in the streetlight
Pools of light created by streetlights on the pavements and in parks are the perfect place to show off your shadow and shimmy in the spotlight. Watch your shadow cast different shapes – make yourself tall and thin, spread out like a star and try twirling so fast your shadow becomes a blur.

Try following your sensory map again in the daylight
Visitors on a bridge at Eskdale and Duddon Valley, Cumbria
Try following your sensory map again in the daylight

Draw a sensory map
Take a paper and pencil on a familiar walk in the dark. Use your senses to create a map as you go – mark the special smells, sounds and textures. You can light the way using your torch if you need to. Be sure to check what you are touching first, and never touch anything that looks poisonous or like it might hurt you. You could even go back during the day to see if you could follow the map.

Have a picnic in the dark
Eating in the dark is very strange; if you can’t see, you use your other senses more. You might notice the sound your food makes, or even that it tastes different. Tests have even shown people can enjoy food they don’t usually like when they eat them in the dark – so if your friends don’t like sprouts, dare them to eat them at night. Once you’ve gathered together provisions for your special picnic, head out at night to put this to the test (along with some warm clothes and a torch with a strong beam).

Hollow out a Punkie Night lantern
Punkie Night is an old Somerset tradition celebrated on the last Thursday of October. The lanterns were traditionally made from turnips (or mangelwurzels, a root vegetable usually grown for cow food). To make one, hollow out a turnip using your spoon, until only a thin layer is left. (Turnips are really hard, though, so you may find it easier to ask a grown-up to help you hollow it out using a power drill.) Put your tea light through the hole in the top and the light will glow eerily through the skin of a turnip.

If you're exploring outside at night, don't forget your torch like this visitor to Penshaw Monument, Sunderland
A girl explores Penshaw Monument, Sunderland wearing a head torch
If you're exploring outside at night, don't forget your torch like this visitor to Penshaw Monument, Sunderland

Top tips for night-time fun

  • Never go out at night alone. If you venture beyond your garden, take a grown up and a charged mobile phone for emergencies
  • Wrap up warm and take a torch. You don’t have to use it all the time, but it’s best to have one with you
  • Go places you have spent time in during the day, so you know what the landscape looks like
  • Wear good shoes or wellies
A family flying a kite at Wembury, Devon.

50 things to do before you're 11 ¾  

Fancy exploring the outdoors, learning new skills and trying new things? Grab your gear and start ticking off some of our 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾.