20 Best Songs to Sing Around Your Next Campfire

Updated: Oct. 08, 2023

Your whole family can sing their hearts out to these iconic campfire songs that are perfect for a starry night

You’ve got the firewood. You’ve grabbed the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for s’mores. Now all you need are some beloved songs to sing around the campfire. After all, singing time-honored songs while you roast weenies around an open fire is an essential part of the camping experience. Some campfire songs are silly and get everyone giggling. Some are nostalgic and bring up great memories of camping trips past. And some are just a great way to create wonderful outdoor memories with your family and friends.

And let’s face it, there’s something magical about gathering around the campfire. You can tell campfire stories, plan the next day’s camping activities or play some campfire games. And even if you’re new to the great outdoors, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with our guide to camping for beginners. Now all you need is to warm up your singing voice for our list of can’t-miss campfire songs.

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“Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King soundtrack

Sure, there are lots of epic songs from Disney’s animated 1994 classic, like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Circle of Life” to Elton John’s iconic “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” But if you’re looking for an upbeat song to sing around a campfire, look no further than Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog’s breezy mantra, “Hakuna Matata.” Sung by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella in the original—and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner in the 2019 revamp—it’s a tune everyone knows. And if you don’t know all the lyrics, as the song says, no worries.

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“Baby Shark” by Pinkfong

Parents may shudder when they see this one on the list, but the truth is, every kid knows—and absolutely loves—this song. It’s a surefire way to lure a timid first-time camper out of their tent or distract a child who might be a little afraid of the dark. Consider adding choreography for each member of the shark family too. Funny songs are an easy way to get the kids giggling and dancing around the campfire.

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“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

There’s a reason this Jessie J–penned tune makes a special appearance in Pitch Perfect, where it famously promoted a singalong among the argumentative a capella group the Barden Bellas. Everyone knew the lyrics, from the social butterfly to the shy girl to the too-cool-for-school-groups singer. Miley Cyrus’s 2009 track is the ideal campfire song when you’ve got a diverse group hanging out in the best tents who might not have a lot in common.

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“Iko Iko” by various artists

Every generation knows a version of this New Orleans song, from the first popular cover by ’60s girl-group The Dixie Cups to the Belle Stars version that appeared on the 1982 Rain Man soundtrack. More recently, Justin Wellington created a tune that became a hit in 2021 thanks to a TikTok challenge. But the original, penned by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford and his Cane Cutters, features the very campfire-appropriate opening line, “My grandma and your grandma, sitting by the fire.” All you need for musical accompaniment is a makeshift maraca and perhaps an open bottle to blow on, and you’ve got yourself a campsite hit.

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“Hey Jude” by the Beatles

Would it even be a campfire night without a Beatles song? Arguably their best-known song, “Hey Jude” was penned by Paul McCartney as an ode to John Lennon’s young son Julian, who was distressed when his father infamously left his mother for Yoko Ono. “Hey Jules” became “Hey Jude”—an enduring song that McCartney performs regularly during his solo shows. And if the lyrics to all the verses aren’t well known by the entire camping crew, you can bet that everyone relaxing in camp chairs around the fire knows the words to the final four minutes of the song: “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Na-na-na-na. Hey Jude.”

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“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond

This 1969 classic has reached legendary status, likely to prompt a singalong at your local bar or stadium. In fact, professional sports teams from the Carolina Panthers to the Boston Red Sox are known to play the tune regularly at games. Chances are, everyone will know the words—or the often-added boisterous “Ba-ba-baaaaa!” after the titular “Sweet Caroline” is crooned. Just make sure your neighboring campers are awake, because they’re sure to be roused from their sleeping bags when your crew bellows “So good! So good! So good!”

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“California Dreamin'” by The Mamas & The Papas

All you need is one person who knows the lyrics to this classic to take charge of singing it, since every line repeats itself. This enduring 1965 track has been covered by the Beach Boys, America and Jose Feliciano, but it’s the original version, penned by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips, that’s most well known. It’s a little melancholy, a little bittersweet and a lot perfect for a singalong in more brisk weather—thanks to the opening lyric, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray” that references oncoming chilly winter weather.

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“Campfire Song Song” by Spongebob Squarepants

You can’t talk about campfire songs without talking about the one-and-only “Campfire Song Song.” The rules are simple. Spell “Campfire Song” as loudly and as quickly as you can. Just sing it with us: “Let’s gather around the campfire and sing our campfire song. Our C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E-S-O-N-G song. And if you don’t think that we can sing it faster, then you’re wrong!” Sure, you’re bound to trip up the letters and end up in giggles, but that’s the whole point. Plus, it’s a failsafe way to get young kids—and kids at heart—involved in a campfire singalong.

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“The Golden Girls Theme” originally performed by Cynthia Fee

You can shout “Thank you for being a friend” anywhere: the doctor’s office, a crowded restaurant or huddled around the campfire. It’s a surefire bet that everyone will shout back “travel down the road and back again.” The Golden Girls was one of the biggest hit shows of the ’80s, but the antics of those Miami matriarchs are timeless, making this iconic theme song a welcome addition anywhere—especially if it leads to quoting Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia.

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“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

The story of this campfire favorite is 25 years in the making. Bob Dylan recorded the iconic chorus—that memorable “Hey, mama, rock me”—in 1973, with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show adding verses 25 years later. Nathan Carter’s cover was a hit on the Irish charts in 2012, and Darius Rucker’s 2013 cover was a stateside hit, topping the country charts in the U.S. and Canada. Still, it’s the Dylan version that most of us think of when they hear the song.

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“Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty

Arguably one of the late singer’s best songs, “Free Fallin'” is also one of Petty’s most famous, having been covered by Stevie Nicks, John Mayer and Coldplay. This puts your campfire crew in great company when you croon the 1989 hit around a couple of twinkling logs. Even if you don’t know all the words, everyone knows that bold, belty chorus. And there’s nothing like singing, “And I’m freeeee!” while you’re sitting in the fresh air, surrounded by cool breezes, tall trees and a lightning bug or two. It even works if you’re glamping.

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“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band

You don’t need a fiddle to accompany you when you sing this classic country rock tune about the Devil trying to win a young man’s soul through a music-playing contest. The lyrics alone are enough to keep everyone enraptured—although if someone wants to pretend to be the fiddle, that’ll likely be a campfire hit. The original was released in 1979, but camping pals from every generation should know a version—from in-concert performances by the Zac Brown Band and Blues Traveler to Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu’s iconic 1996 floor routine set to the original track.

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“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams

That raspy voice! Those angsty lyrics! Bryan Adams’s smash 1985 single is an ode to young love, big dreams and those lazy, hazy days gone by. All those memories will come back in a flash when you’re sitting around with your friends and someone croons that memorable opening line: “I got my first real six-string.” Of course, the next line references the old-timey five-and-dime stores, which, much like the summer of ’69, are long in the past.

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“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan

When you’re talking about campfire songs, it would be egregious to leave off this classic Bob Dylan track—arguably the folk singer-songwriter’s career-defining tune. The 1963 song from Dylan’s classic The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album has long been considered a protest song for the Civil Rights Movement, and it asks the deep, soul-provoking questions you might ponder when you’re staying up all night camping for free around a fire, perhaps with a tune-appropriate wind blowing, without cell phones or other distractions. Like the legendary intro wonders, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?”

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“Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

There are plenty of Taylor Swift songs that everyone knows, from “Shake It Off” to “Blank Space.” But when you’re sitting out in the woods around a campfire, you want to go deep into the singer’s Folklore era, the 2020 low-fi release where she fully embraced the cottagecore aesthetic and released pared-down tracks that were a stark change from the ramped-up production of her previous album, the electropop Lover. So get cozy in a song-appropriate cardigan—or a sweatshirt, as she mentions in the song, we won’t judge—and embrace your inner Swiftie.

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“The Duck Song” by Bryant Oden

It all started back in January of 2009, when songwriter Bryant Oden uploaded to YouTube his silly little ditty about a duck pestering a shopkeeper for grapes. Two months later, YouTuber Forrest Whaley added the crude, funny animation to the song—the same animation that’s endured today—and it became a massive hit. It’s silly enough to keep everyone laughing, and if by chance someone on your camping trip hasn’t heard the saga of the grapes-obsessed duck, the twist ending is sure to keep them enthralled until the duck waddles away.

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“Wide Open Spaces” by The Chicks

The best part of exploring the great outdoors is, well, actually exploring them! And after you’ve tackled the best hiking trail in your state, you might be ready to just kick up your tired feet by the fire and reminisce about the wonderful sights you’ve seen that day. Whether you took a trail along a lakeside bluff, near a waterfall or through an enchanted wooded forest, the best song for celebrating your accomplishments at the end of the day is this 1998 classic, a celebration of that yearning for something bigger.

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“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens

Originally penned in 1939 by a South African Zulu singer named Solomon Linda, the track, then called “Mbubu,” became a No. 1 hit in the U.S., thanks to a cover version by the doo-wop group The Tokens. Although a new cover version is released nearly every year—the 2019 version of The Lion King featured the tune, as sung by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen—it’s The Tokens version of this song that remains the gold standard, with its “wimoweh” chanting in the background that everyone in your campsite is sure to know.

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“American Pie” by Don McLean

To paraphrase the words to this classic track, although it was released a “long, long time ago” in 1971, we “can still remember” the lyrics to this lengthy song. Clocking it at 8 minutes and 42 seconds, it was the longest song to ever top Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, until it was dethroned by Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.” Even though it’s wordy, it’s a classic everyone knows and loves, and it’s sure to entice your camp-mates to join in when it’s sung around the fire … even if no one knows what the lyrics “Drove my Chevy to the levee/but the levee was dry” mean exactly.

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“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

We all know where Tommy used to work before the union when on strike. We all know where Gina works all day. But you don’t need to be in New Jersey to appreciate this Garden State anthem, because Bon Jovi’s 1986 hit song about blue-collar blues transcends state lines. (Although, if you’re looking for the best RV park in New Jersey—or in any other state—we’ve got you covered.) The track, which topped the charts in the U.S., is an iconic rock anthem that boasts the best singalong “Whoa-oh!” around. So pop a marshmallow on a stick and use it as a makeshift microphone, because you’ll want to embrace your inner hair-metal rocker when you sing this tune around the campfire.

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Next, check out our family camping movie recommendations for your next camping trip.