Best Party Tents

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
16 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
143 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best party tents

If you like to throw outdoor parties and are tired of trying to second-guess the weather, it might be time to invest in a party tent. While a tent is perfect for keeping the sun and rain off your guests, it can also be used for a wide variety of other purposes, such as camping or extra outdoor living space.

When you’re looking at the various party tents on the market, you want to choose wisely. Select a poor-quality tent and everyone will be talking about your party — but not in a good way. But how do you choose a high-quality tent?

This buying guide can help you to navigate the various things to consider, from type and size to weatherproofing and anchoring, before buying a party tent. These tents range from the inexpensive to the pricey, so we also cover what you can expect to find at various price points. We’ve also made some recommendations for what we feel are some of the best party tents currently available.

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Do you need permission to set up a party tent? Some locales do require a permit or special permission before you can set one up, so check first.

Key considerations

Type

One of the first decisions you need to make when looking for a party tent is what type of tent you want. There are a number of different ones to choose from, including the following:

Pop-up canopies: These are compact tents that often have accordion-fold legs for easy setup. They tend to be simple in design, lightweight, and much cheaper than other party tents. While most pop-ups aren’t that durable, one can be a great option if you want to keep a small group out of the sun.

Pole tents: When you’re really ready to party, you might be ready for a pole tent. As the name implies, these party tents have a frame made of poles held upright like a traditional tent with ropes and stakes. Pole tents can be fairly inexpensive compared to some of the other types. 

On the downside, setup can be difficult in some locations due to the stakes, and the poles and lines can be a trip hazard.

Tension tents: These are similar to pole tents, but they have a higher peak (think circus tent). This gives them a more elegant appearance that is suitable for more formal events. These are more stable in wind than pole tents, but they can be more expensive.

Frame tents: When you’re ready to pull out all the stops, a frame tent is the way to go. These are held up by a metal frame, bypassing some of the problems you can have with poles, ropes, and stakes. 

On the downside, frame tents can be heavy and difficult to set up and take down. They can also be quite expensive.

Size

Simply put, the larger the tent, the more guests you can have at your party. Carefully consider how you plan to use your tent, in addition to the size of your guest list and what furniture you need, before selecting a tent size. While some party tents are more like awnings than tents, others are capable of sheltering numerous people, tables, and even a dance floor. Just remember that larger tents can be more difficult to transport, set up, and take down.

Ease of use

We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s an important point. Setup for party tents can range from the simple to the highly complex. On the simple side, you have pop-up tents that one person can unfold and set up in a matter of minutes. At the other end of the spectrum are frame tents with numerous parts that require a detailed instruction manual, several people, and a couple of hours to erect. Even midsize pole or tension tents can prove challenging for some.

Be sure to spend some time looking at the tent’s user comments to discover any issues. If a tent is difficult to set up, you’ll find out about it here. 

Appearance

It’s a party, so the appearance of your tent is important. The style or type of tent can really set the tone for an occasion, as can elements such as walls. A formal party will benefit from being held in an elegant tent, while a casual party is probably more comfortable in something like a simple pole or pop-up tent.

Give some thought to the color, too. Some manufacturers offer a choice, such as red or blue. Tent color can greatly add to the ambiance of a party, but be careful here. What works for one party may not for the next. If you plan to use your tent often, you might be better off going with a simple white tent and changing the decorations for each party.

A party tent with a silver liner can help keep the inside of the tent cooler.

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Features

Party tents — and tents in general — are made up of two primary elements: the roof and the frame (support structure). 

Roof

While tent roofs used to be made of a material such as canvas, today they’re more often made of polyester or vinyl.

Polyester: Used primarily for pop-up tents, polyester is usually cheaper than vinyl but also less durable.

Vinyl: Pole, frame, and tension tents are typically made from vinyl. Superior UV protection and weather resistance are both characteristics of a vinyl tent.

Frame

Whether it’s the poles holding up a pole or tension tent or the framework in a pop-up or frame tent, without the frame, your tent is a pile of fabric sitting on your lawn. Aluminum and steel are commonly used in tent frames, and each has pros and cons. 

Steel is stronger but also heavier. While a steel frame can do a better job standing up to weather, it isn’t the best choice if you’re in the market for a portable tent. If you do go with steel, be sure it’s powder-coated, galvanized, or treated in some other way to resist rust.

Aluminum is much lighter and easier to set up and transport, but it isn’t as sturdy as steel.

Walls

Some party tents have walls on one or more sides, offering more privacy and better protection from the elements. A party tent with walls can also provide a more formal feel. Some walls are solid while others are made of mesh or have built-in windows. Many times, tent walls can be removed from the tent or tied back to let in light and air.

Anchoring

Party tents are usually anchored to stay stable in the wind. While the anchoring often comes in the form of rope and stakes, other methods include anchors or weights. If your tent has minimal or no anchoring, you can buy what you need separately.

Storage bag

Most, but not all, party tents come with a storage bag to protect your tent when it isn’t in use and keep all the parts together. The bag should be durable and include a sturdy zipper (or some other way to close it securely) and a handle or wheels for easy transport. A bag is essential if you need to frequently transport and set up your tent in different locations. If your tent doesn’t include one, you can buy a bag separately.

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DID YOU KNOW?
If your party includes round tables, allow 12 square feet of space per person. For rectangular tables, allow 10 square feet of space per person.
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Party tent prices

Party tents start at around $50 and can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on size and quality. The average price is around $150 to $300.

Inexpensive: At the lowest price point, around $50 to $100, you can find simple, compact pop-up tents that offer few extras. These are great for small, casual get-togethers in good weather.

Mid-range: Party tents that cost $100 to $300  include larger pop-ups, some with walls. These tents are more attractive, so one is ideal for more formal parties with more guests.

Expensive: High-quality party tents, including pole tents and heavy-duty frame tents, cost over $300. Large, elegant tents can cost up to $1,000 and more. 

Unless you throw lots of outdoor parties, select a versatile tent that you can put to other uses.

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Tips

  • Match the tent to the location. Pole and tension tents need to be staked, which requires several feet of space around the perimeter of the tent. One of these is not the way to go if you need a tent that can be erected close to a building or on a hard surface. The ropes and stakes can be tripping hazards, too, so these tents might not be ideal for kids’ parties.
  • Match the tent to the occasion. The size of the tent you choose will depend on the size of your guest list and the type of event. A catered dinner or event with a dance floor needs much more space than a simple cocktail party or lecture.
  • Buy a repair kit. Repair kits are equipped with spare material and some form of adhesive so you can fix minor rips and holes. Many tent manufacturers sell repair kits that exactly match your tent’s color.
  • Choose ratchets over ropes. If you’re searching for more control over your tent’s tension, choose one that is anchored by ratchet sets instead of rope lines. Ratchet sets can also help minimize wrinkles in the tent’s fabric.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Make sure that your tent can handle inclement weather if necessary. If you know it will be windy, anchor your tent more securely to protect against wind gusts.
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Be sure your tent is completely dry before you put it in its storage bag. This will help prevent mold and mildew.

FAQ

Q. I don’t really have a lot of parties. What else can I use a party tent for?

A. Depending on the size and type of the tent, you can put it to a variety of uses. A party tent can be used as a camping shelter or an outdoor dining area for family dinners and barbecues. One can be used as a special play area for kids or as a shelter for a yard sale. You can put an inflatable hot tub in your tent for a special date night, or put up a screen for your own outdoor movie theater. Tents with walls can be used for temporary storage, while larger tents are useful as carports.

Q. What is the best way to clean a party tent?

A. You should clean your party tent regularly to keep it in good condition and looking nice. Your best bet here is to follow the cleaning guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Tents vary in terms of materials and other factors, and the manufacturer knows the best way to clean its tents. Some might even recommend a special product that both cleans and protects the tent.

Q. Can I leave my party tent up all the time?

A. Once you’ve gone to the time and trouble of setting up a party tent, you might be tempted to just leave it up, but this isn’t a good idea for most tents. The tent will be exposed to rain, UV rays, and wind that can shorten its useful life. Lightweight aluminum poles not designed for extended use can warp or bend and become unusable. For long-term use, check out something like a canvas or military tent, which is designed to handle weather and UV exposure.

 

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