Oct 20, 2023

The 14 Best Outdoor Lanterns and Tabletop Lights of 2023

Use these lights to set the mood at your dining table or outdoor seating areas.

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Food and Wine / Alli Waataja

No matter how ample the patio or outdoor space is, our ambiance comes down to critical elements that frequent hosts rely on. One such element I always add (in addition to multiple seating areas and great outdoor dinnerware) is outdoor lighting in the form of lanterns and rechargeable lights. I love adding layers of lighting around the backyard, which makes my get-togethers feel more magical. I even add enormous inflatable balls that light up in the pool for our annual summer blowout party.

Many of the outdoor lanterns and tabletop lights I like double as indoor lights as well, which makes them perfect for all of my gatherings–and I hate one-use wonders. There are so many options beyond string lights, but we have favorites for those too. Here's how to add some candlelight or battery-powered glow outdoors for every style and budget.

Serena and Lily

The Summerland Outdoor lantern from Serena and Lily successfully channels the brand's open and airy aesthetic. The lantern is made with all-weather resin on a metal frame and is available in white and natural all-weather wicker. The lantern comes in small and large sizes and features a handle for easy carrying from place to place. The finish is made to mimic the look of genuine rattan, so the lanterns evoke a seaside vibe. The interior hurricane is made from recycled glass, and candles are not included. It comes in small and large, sold individually or as a set with one of each.

Price at time of publish: $198

Solar LED Lantern

Available in two sizes, these solar LED lanterns look like a futuristic frosted white beehive with a modern brown plastic handle that looks like leather. The outdoor-safe plastic means this solar-powered lantern can quickly illuminate any part of an outdoor space required, be it a garden pathway, porch, patio, or dining table. The LED battery charges by UBS plug and gets a full charge in 4 hours. It also charges via the sun, which takes 12 hours to complete. The warm white light will last six to eight hours, depending on which of the three brightnesses is chosen.

Price at time of publish: $100


For a traditional or transitional lantern that looks realistic without fuss or maintenance, this LampLust solar lantern is a great choice. There's a built-in solar panel that automatically turns it on at night, and it's extra large, meaning it's suitable on the floor or tabletop. The solar lantern includes pre-installed rechargeable batteries lasting six to eight hours. But the exterior shell and interior LED candle or water-resistant, and it's made to be extra durable for inclement weather. Once lit, the solar-powered LED candle is made to flicker like natural candlelight, so it's a nice layer for any gathering.

Price at time of publish: $57

Design Within Reach

For more modern aesthetics, Design Within Reach doesn't disappoint. The portable bulb lamp is waterproof, shockproof, and cordless. Made for space lighting, the perfect sphere light can be used indoors, outdoors, or even in the pool. It has three modes to choose from static in one of four colors, dynamic with unlimited colors changing automatically, and candle effect. Depending on use, one six-hour charge will provide up to 20 hours of power. The Bluetooth technology lets you change the colors of the light like a mood ring based on the event. These are best in multiples, so if you can afford the splurge, do.

Price at time of publish: $235

Design Within Reach

The Abella portable lamp looks like a mushroom and he soft white light is rechargeable and portable. One charge takes four and a half hours but provides up to 40 hours of warm and ambient glow. The light is from designer Bill Curry's total look lamps of the 1960s and 70s. Since it's such an organic shape, its gentle diffused light is at home both outdoors and indoors. The mouth-blown frosted glass globe is controllable with an on-off rotary switch base at the dimmer. While it is splashproof, it should be stored indoors.

Price at time of publish: $300


When the backyard vibe is organic, but the convenience of LED light is appealing, this all-weather wicker weave and powder-coated aluminum frame from Frontgate is the move. There's no hazard of an open flame, and the replaceable solar-powered battery is also exceedingly convenient with one charge. Available in two colors and two sizes, the solar lantern provides warm layers, be it on the side of a longer or to provide light during that next dining party dinner party outdoor dinner party.

Price at time of publish: $399


Leave it to Target's Threshold brand to create a functional and current outdoor lantern at an affordable price. The resin outdoor lantern in natural comes in two sizes, so it's appropriate for the tabletop or even on the ground. It's wicker and battery-operated, but you wouldn't know it wasn't a real candle while squinting. The resin lantern has a handle for hanging on hooks or transporting indoors during the off-season. It's round, works with various decors games, and is incredibly useful when adding extra light. It is not rechargeable, but it is powered with batteries which are not included.

Price at time of publish: $35


The Anywhere Lamp is as advertised — highly portable for indoors or outdoors. Offered in various colors like sunflower yellow and peony pink, the smooth curves of this modern lantern are complimented by the practical handle in the same color as the base. The high-powered LED has a rechargeable, high-capacity battery. The white exterior diffuses the light's warm glow, which is meant to evoke a Japanese lantern with a contemporary look. It would be equally at home on a nightstand for a kid scared of the dark.

Price at time of publish: $40


The Vela Solar Lantern has a dark finish for the house with moodier outdoor energy. If Wednesday Addams ever needed a modern lantern, this might be perfect. The lantern looks like a lighthouse punctuated by parallel slats that run down its side. A rechargeable solar panel fuels the white glow behind the Vela's grey metal frame. Offering warm light at night, the Frontgate exclusive provides a soft glow, so look elsewhere if you need bright light.

Price at time of publish: $349


The ELO rechargeable LED lamp is shaped like a cylinder with a loop on the top. It looks like a wine bottle but is super modern with frosted white light. The usable hook can attach to ropes, branches, or more if you want to create overhead lighting and don't have anywhere to fix it. Designer Bina Baitel created the lamp to run for hours without excess glare, and it's weatherproof and dimmable. The light has three settings (soft, diffused, or ambient) and is made from recyclable plastics. It's available in blue, khaki, or white.

Price at time of publish: $130


The Pina Pro Table Lamp is one of the most elegant lamps on our list. While it can be used outdoors, it is also used at home as a desk or accent table lamp. The light is charged by a portable induction charging base and will last up to 13 hours on one charge. The Pina's die-cast aluminum exterior comes in Dark Grey, Rust, White, Sand, and Black. The light's dimmer controls the lighting settings, which are soft, diffused, and ambient, so it's easy to create the perfect vibe at home.

Price at time of publish: $150


If you've ever seen these lamps on restaurant dining tables and wondered where they buy them, this is your chance. Sold in pairs, these minimalist rechargeable table lamps come in every color for a table: gold, silver, or black. The LED lights provide 360 light and is both battery-powered and rechargeable. They are light enough to be taken in and out, which is convenient because they are not waterproof. Once charged, the light can be used anywhere from 8-40 hours, depending on which of the light modes you choose. The body is made from anodized aluminum alloy and is easy to clean.

Price at time of publish: $70

Williams Sonoma

The Glow Nomad Light is a Williams Sonoma exclusive and the most colorful on our list. The light runs for ten hours using the included wall adapter or USB charger for a worry-free get-together. The tear-drop-shaped light is weather-resistant plastic with a silver metal handle. The LED lights have five adjustable settings, including solid, strobe, fade, flash, and smooth, which run in 16 vibrant colors. The portable lantern is a contemporary addition that will be at home on any patio or deck and would also work for a teen's room.

Price at time of publish: $130

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn's Decker Acadia light is crafted of acacia wood with an iron cancel plate. Available in black and brown, the lanterns can be used with a candle, but the brand notes to blow it out before it burns out completely since the material is wood. The lanterns have a rounded handle to carry the rectangular lamp from place to place. We like them paired with more than one in the three sizes for contrast. The light can be used inside or outside, but be sure to bring them in when the weather is inclement.

Price at time of publish: $140

Not all outdoor and tabletop lanterns are waterproof, so check the small print on how it needs to be stored. Some outdoor lanterns can stay put wherever you put them, but many should be stored inside between uses.

Some lanterns have a concise battery life, so check how many hours you get per charge or battery pack. Some lights rely on batteries or solar energy, and solar lights tend to fade as the charge wanes, so rechargeable or battery-powered lights are best.

Outdoor lanterns can have multiple light sources, including candles and battery-powered lights in soft and bright whites. We like combining both to create the most peaceful event lighting because layering lighting is always the best.

Jennifer Zyman is a Senior Commerce Writer for Food & Wine and a former restaurant critic with a culinary school degree and over 15 years of food writing experience. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, Local Palate, National Geographic, Simply Recipes, Southern Living, and Thrillist. She wrote this story using testing data and research.

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