Gazebos make a great backyard retreat at any time of day but they really come into their own at night when dressed up with lights. Gazebo lighting ideas can create an evening space that's perfect for entertaining, a special dinner or simply a stunning way to show off the backyard at night.
Gazebos look especially welcoming when the lights are switched on at dusk and it's time for them to take center stage in the night-time garden. A well-lit gazebo works as an architectural focal point at night, too. The freestanding, open structure is ideal for outdoor lighting ideas, especially if it features a domed roof that’s supported by pillars or columns as this creates opportunities for a combination of gazebo lighting ideas.
There are also temporary pop-up fabric gazebo structures that provide a useful space for socializing at night, can be positioned wherever you want them and can also be beautifully decorated with lights.
Gazebo lighting ideas
Which gazebo lighting style will you choose? From sparkling string lights and glowing festoons to vintage style chandeliers and modern built-in LED strip lights there's plenty of choice for your backyard lighting ideas.
1. Use pretty string lights for a magical vibe
If you're hosting a garden party the best place to start with lights is up high. Span strings of sparkling outdoor string lighting ideas above your entertaining space for maximum impact. Choose string lights if you're covering bigger areas as they're lightweight, come in connectable designs and are easy to work with as well as being affordable.
'String lights are such a great way to light up your gazebo,' says Lights4Fun's creative manager Lucy Kirk. 'To create the ultimate display, use multiple sets of warm white connectable fairy lights so you can swag the fairy lights back and forth underneath the roof of your gazebo for the perfect fairy light canopy. This will create a cozy ambience throughout your space.'
Faux candles in lanterns are directional and superb for creating ambience when dotted around or grouped together in a gazebo for maximum effect. 'By using various lighting options, you create a designer look with romantic overtones while avoiding harsh lighting,' says interior designer Sanel Konyar of Interior Collection.
2. Go Regency-style formal with a chandelier
Chandeliers aren’t just for the dining room. They can be hung in a variety of outdoor locations to add a touch of luxury when the sun goes down. Make a bold statement and hang a chandelier from the roof of your gazebo, choosing a style of light that best complements the space.
Whether electric or solar-lit, an elegant chandelier over the table is one of those gazebo lighting ideas that help switch up the space for an al fresco dinner. A vintage-style chandelier with teardrop crystals adds glimmer and shine for a more formal vibe that helps to create a sense of occasion.
A vintage-style chandelier creates an air of elegance for your patio gazebo. If fitting the gazebo with dedicated electricity seems like too much hassle, remove all the wiring and sockets from an old chandelier and turn it into a battery-run chandelier by replacing the lights with faux tealights. Layer up the look with similar candles as part of the tablescaping.
3. Choose festoon lights for an old school feel
Festoon lights have a traditional feel with their big bulbs. The shapely glass globes come in warm whites or multi-colors. It's a look that's big right now, with festoon lights a firm favorite when it comes to garden parties. They are also one of the best gazebo lighting ideas, adding a subtle look that's not too harsh.
'Lights that are too bright for a gazebo can ruin the mood at night-time, which is where festoon lights come into play,' says Sam Richards of Gazeboshop. 'For pop-up gazebos, outdoor festoon lights can be attached along the frame and used to build a warm atmosphere, particularly when partnered with strip lights or lanterns.'
The latest styles of festoon lights combine energy efficient LEDs with more practical translucent plastic cases, designed to perfectly imitate the nostalgic look of the traditional version, while being virtually unbreakable.
4. Turn your gazebo into a backyard focal point
As well as lighting ideas for a gazebo within the space itself it's a great idea to light it up so it glows when seen from a distance too. Whether it's a hexagonal timber gazebo or a more stark modern style, it will look enchanting at night with the right lighting and become a real focal point in the backyard. This is a great example of using lighting to illuminate a specific feature.
Think about how best to light the gazebo with a wash of light picking out key elements around it, such as backlighting the planting and gently illuminating the steps. Use mirroring in the foreground to pick out these details then layer up the lighting effect in the gazebo. Letting your lights meet at a centered fixture will add pleasing symmetry to your space too.
5. Add a statement floor lamp
Treat the outdoors like the indoors by using a combination of decorative lanterns and free-standing floor lamps to create a blended area that’s perfect for a relaxed atmosphere. Overhanging floor lamps add a real design element. Choose one that's height adjustable and preferably with dual effects so you can choose direct down-light or diffused up-light.
'Whether you have a permanent or pop-up gazebo, lighting your garden structure will allow you to make the most of your outdoor space at night,' says Reilly Gray of SUNS Lifestyle. 'Just like in your interiors, you will want to create a layered lighting scheme in your outdoor structure as well. This will help create ambience while ensuring there's enough lighting for socializing or relaxing. Freestanding lamps and lanterns that are solar-powered and rechargeable are great as they can be moved around easily, offering a lot more flexibility and the option of directional lighting.'
Lighting styles like this are ideal for a luxe fixed gazebo style for your terrace. Choose a style with flexible shutters in the roof and side screens. That way you can use it year round at night to make the most of your gazebo.
6. Fix up a gazebo cottagecore style
If you love the idea of a nostalgic fairy tale gazebo with vintage style prints and lots of freshly picked flowers you'll be wanting lighting ideas for a gazebo that match this cottagecore aesthetic. Your go-to choice should be paper lanterns to get the look.
Dressing up your gazebo with pretty paper lanterns is one of the easiest ways to create an entertaining space for a summer garden party.
Made of thin paper covering a wire framework, paper lanterns come in a range of designs, colors and sizes. Illuminated from the inside, they provide a soft glow that adds to the magic. It's best to use LED lights or battery powered bulbs with paper lanterns, as they don’t give off heat in the same way that incandescent bulbs do.
7. Try a gazebo with integrated glow
If you're looking for a stylish freestanding gazebo for your backyard hosting choose one with remote-controlled LED mood lighting strips around the perimeter of the roof. It's an automatic, hassle-free option that adds instant glow. The LED strips come in multi-colored or white options, and are easily adjusted with a remote control.
You can also set the lights to automatically change color periodically (great for parties!) or keep them one color. The lights are dimmable according to your desired brightness requirements and can be changed to set the mood for the occasion. Gazebo lighting like this requires an electricity socket for the lights to be activated.
8. Illuminate a gazebo with hanging lights
Outdoor hanging lights including garden lanterns and pendant lights come in a huge range of styles, finishes and colors so can be used in gazebos to create just about any vibe you like. They are great clustered together to form a statement look.
Some styles plug into an electricity supply, but if you’re unable to connect your outdoor lamps to a power source, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Instead, why not pick one of the many battery-powered pendant lamps? Another option is solar garden lighting ideas that automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn as no power source is required.
First and foremost, the gazebo structure you are suspending the lighting from needs to be able to take the weight of the light fitting itself, especially if you're planning a look like this one where you hang multiple lights together. Then all you need to do is determine the best design to accentuate your gazebo's charms.
9. Pick a subtle and sophisticated look
If you're looking to decorate your outdoor dining space for a special al fresco meal often a few strands of string lights is all that's needed to give things a lift. Perhaps a discreet touch of sparkle rather than full-on spotlights is more your thing anyway.
String lights are one of the best lighting ideas for a gazebo if you want to generate a romantic, ethereal atmosphere. These tiny LED lights are best added to the gazebo by wrapping them around the overhead beams.
'Using string lights is one of the best ways to add a romantic and atmospheric feel to your night-time entertaining,' says interior designer Sanel Konyar. 'Choosing a solar light design makes them practical and economical, especially where electricity sources are limited.'
10. Make things feel extra special
If you really want to elevate your look above every other gazebo on the block make sure you choose lighting ideas that create a real sense of occasion. And if you're going to do it, do it well.
If you're planning to install a chandelier in your gazebo that's wired into an electrical supply make sure you buy one that is suitable. Choose a chandelier made of weather resistant material, and safety approved for outdoor use.
Your outdoor chandelier should come with a sealed circuit to avoid moisture affecting the fittings. It should have a rubber coated switch and heavy duty cord. Once you've ticked off these you're ready to start hanging your chandelier.
Check the roof of your gazebo will carry the weight. Install a sturdy metal hook into the roof of your gazebo so the chandelier can be hung securely. Make sure each wire is the same length so the chandelier hangs evenly. For chandeliers hung in the center of gazebos, the lowest point should be about seven feet from the ground to reduce the risk of taller guests bumping their heads!
How do you hang string lights on a gazebo?
'The most difficult part of hanging string lights is ensuring the wire is free of knots and that the lights are spaced evenly,' says Sam Richards of Gazeboshop. Here are his suggestions on the easiest way to hang a string of lights for successful gazebo lighting ideas:
- Measure the path the lights will follow along the structure of the gazebo and check you have enough.
- Choose a pattern that will mean your lights will be evenly spaced.
- Untangle your lights.
- Choose your hanging method of choice. You may use a staple gun to hang your lights, hooks or Blu-Tack. If you do choose to staple your lights, ensure the staple does not go through the wire!
- Start hanging from the furthest point and work your way in, this way you won't have spare lights left over at the end.
- Check your lights are secure and switch on!
How do you use lanterns to light a gazebo?
If you want to find out how to use lanterns to light a gazebo remember this simple fact: you can never have enough! Add them to your dining table, side tables and the floor to layer up a look and create a welcoming mood.
'Lanterns are a great addition to outdoor spaces and in particular for gazebos as they help to define the edges of the space, much as a wall light would do indoors,' says Juliette Thomas of Juliettes Interiors. 'Just because you’re not inside, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to accessorize your space.
'Cozy it up with lots of lanterns and decorative pieces to create a zoned space that feels both intimate and welcoming. Scatter lanterns around to light up areas such as the entrance to the gazebo, which need to be seen, or group them together to create a focal point.'
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Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about flowers, plants, and garden design and trends since 2015. Having already studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently adding to her list of qualifications with an RHS Level 2 course in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development. In addition to homesandgardens.com and livingetc.com she's written for gardeningetc.com, Modern Gardens and Country Homes & Interiors magazines.
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