Halloween is just around the corner! It’s that time of year again when we open up the old costume chest or pay a visit to the fancy dress shop to find the perfect outfit that’ll scare the pants off our followers on Instagram. If you’re planning on hosting a Halloween party this year, then you’ve got a fun challenge ahead of you in terms of lighting. Your party guests are expecting to be scared silly, which means you’ll need to transform your home into a convincingly creepy haunted house. I’m here to show you the light!

Halloween Party Lighting

The Foundation: Smoke and Shadows

Before I get to work on any theme, I like to focus on what the theme is about without getting lost in little details. I ask myself: What types of things are associated with the theme? When I think of Halloween, I think of keywords like ‘darkness’, ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise’. What type of lighting could I use to create a dark, suspenseful atmosphere? I use questions like these as my starting point and take it from there.

Think Big

The first step in transforming any space into a haunted house is to blacken the room completely. This is no small task, especially considering it’s the foundation for your dark, suspenseful atmosphere. You can invest in professional pipe & drape theatre backdrops but covering the walls and windows with black textile is an affordable alternative; just make sure the fabric you use is fire-safe! Once the room is engulfed in darkness, you can start decorating. Use large, noticeable objects; don’t be afraid to think big!

Think Smoke

An essential ingredient for any Halloween party is smoke, just like the thick layer of mysterious fog in Michael Jackson’s classic video clip “Thriller”. This effect is created with a hazer. High-end hazers can generate a consistent layer of thick fog-like smoke that can create a hair-raising effect in a dark room. There are also more affordable smoke machines on the market that produce plumes of smoke which you can spread out across the room by means of a fan. Another good option is a vertical smoke machine, which shoots smoke straight up into the air, striking terror in the hearts of your unsuspecting guests!


Lighting: Think Small

Now that we’ve laid down the foundation for your Halloween party, we can move on to lighting. Too much lighting will ruin the dark, creepy atmosphere you just created, so the rule of thumb here is: less is more. There are three basic types of lighting you can use, and I’ll go into more detail about them below.

Mood Lighting

This is the first layer of your Halloween lighting. I use static lighting to highlight specific decorative objects and shine a specific colour on them, for instance. You can use PAR spotlights and a dimmer connected to a DMX light controller to adjust the light intensity and colour. For Halloween, I use a lot of orange, purple and blue. I tend to avoid red, as this colour is associated with warmth and love, which is the opposite of what you want! Program your mood lighting in advance and you’ll have your hands free to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Mood Lighting Effects

This is the second layer of your Halloween lighting. I use this type of lighting sporadically to maintain the important element of surprise. A blacklight effect is a good example of mood lighting that can really enhance a dark, spooky environment. It generates a UV light that makes white or fluorescent objects glow in the dark. I recommend a blacklight effect with a high output like the American DJ ECO UV Bar, otherwise the effect is barely noticeable. You don’t want to have this effect on constantly, as that would diminish the mysterious aspect. Recently I bought the Innox Power Switch (a straightforward switching panel) which is great for turning effects on or off from a distance. You can also use PAR spotlights. Use small effects with subtle flashing lights here and there as opposed to large effects that fill the room with light.

Moving Lights

This is the final layer of your Halloween lighting. Moving lights are best used in a subtle way once the party is in full swing. A moving head is a good option, but again it’s important to use the effect sparingly to maintain that feeling of anticipation and suspense. The less lights you use, the more exciting the mood will be. I recommend using a beam type of moving head. It projects thin beams of light that will cut through your (thick) layer of smoke, resulting in a truly blood-curdling effect!

Halloween Party Lighting

Think Synergy

An important part of any successful party is the DJ. I could go on and on about how a DJ can make or break a party, but in this blog, I’d like to focus on a different aspect. Because the dark, suspenseful atmosphere is so important to a Halloween theme party, I always make sure the light jockey is positioned as close as possible to the DJ. That way they can communicate easily with each other and the light jockey can synchronise their lighting and smoke effects to the music. This synergy results in enhanced excitement, guaranteed! The light jockey can switch off all the lights at a break in the music, for instance, which sets your audience up for ultimate exhilaration when the beat and the lights come back on. Even if you’re hosting a small-scale event without a separate light expert, it’s a good idea in general to add variety to your lighting effects that sync well with the music.

Do you have any questions or remarks? Leave them in the comments below!

See also

» Organising a Halloween party: How do you create a spooky atmosphere?

» PAR lighting
» Hazers
» Smoke machines
» Vertical smoke machines
» Fans
» LED moving heads
» LED scanners
» Moving LED light effects
» DMX light controllers
» Switch panels
» Blacklight
» Halloween decorations
» Inflatables & decorative objects
» Outdoor lighting
» Pipe & drape material

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