28 Ways to Light Up Your Next Outdoor Event

Illuminate summer soirees with lighting solutions that are sure to stun.

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July 02, 2019

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Sparkling String Lights

Set the scene for your summer soiree with sparkling bistro lights. This stately backyard is illuminated by string lights draped across the pool from a second-story balcony. Hot tip: Choose bistro lights that mirror the style of your home to create a seamless outdoor or event design. The round glass bulbs pictured above pair seamlessly with the home’s classic, colonial exterior.

Elegant Ambiance

Take notes from this understated, illuminated outdoor dining table for your next al fresco dinner party. A collection of sleek, glass hurricanes with white pillar candles line the length of the table to create a glowing centerpiece.

Twinkle Trees

Take your lights to new heights by wrapping tree trunks and branches in twinkle lights. This modern oasis is set for a fête with two, twinkle-clad trees looming above a roaring fire pit and outdoor lounge area.


Layered Lighting

Illuminate your outdoor entertaining area with multiple layers of light. This contemporary outdoor kitchen and dining space shines with bistro lights overhead, a glowing fireplace by the table and cool-toned, LED globes on the ground. Mixing different light fixtures and tones creates a one-of-a-kind ambiance for your space that you can easily customize or adjust throughout the night.


Playful Paper Lanterns

Pull out all the stops for your next party and dangle statement-making paper lanterns above your entertainment space. Achieve a playful, modern look by hanging a mix of large, medium and small-sized lanterns at various heights above the event space. Opt for all-white lanterns for a clean and polished look or bring in punchy, colored lanterns for more festive design.

Heated Pool

Ensure your pool parties continue into the night with a built-in, waterfront firepit. We’re obsessed with this contemporary firepit design because its proximity to the pool allows it to illuminate the water for late-night swims. Need further convincing? It makes ultra-romantic lighting for pool parties of two, too.

Create Cozy Corners

It’s easy to get lost in the big picture when planning an outdoor party. Our top tip? Be sure to create a few intimate spots throughout the outdoor space for friends to catch up or take a private phone call away from the crowd. Shop a set of two or three woven or glass lanterns and white pillar (or citronella!) candles to create a cozy conversation spot. Style your lanterns on a colorful garden stool or sleek coffee table between a pair of outdoor armchairs.

Mobile Fire Pit

Mobile metal fire pits are at the top of our list for foolproof party lighting. Be sure to invest in an easy-to-tote firepit design to ensure that you can easily move and manipulate your event lighting based on evolving needs. We’re obsessed with the way this glossy and versatile, metal fire pit creates a cozy atmosphere for this transitional outdoor living space and could easily do the same for the patio dining room or poolside bar are.

DIY Chic

Bring graphic shape and organic texture to your outdoor space with DIY pendant lighting made from rope, craft glue and an inflatable ball. Snag our step-by-step instructions below.

MAKE IT: DIY Yarn Lamp

Enhance Your Outdoor Accents

Enhance your outdoor structures after dark by wrapping them in a warm and welcoming glow. This stunning, charcoal pergola serves as an outdoor dining area and is brought to life each night by neat rows of twinkling bistro lights. Create a similar look at home by carefully outlining the perimeters of your covered patio, poolside pergola or garden archway with string lights.

Upcycled Table Torch

Brighten up your backyard seafood boil or tropical pool party with our pretty, upcycled tabletop torches. All you need to start this lovely lighting project? An empty bottle of your favorite rosé. Need we say more? Style these stunners with gingham fabric napkins, rattan serveware and a crisp, white tablecloth.

MAKE IT: Turn Old Glass Bottles Into Citronella Torches

Modern Orbs

Waterproof and cord-free orbs are just what you need to ensure your backyard shines for all your summer events. Arrange the LED globes along your front walkway to lead the way to the festivities or add them to your pool for a splashy, posh party design that’s sure to wow the crowd.

Pigmented Pool

Crank up the color for your backyard party with pretty, pigmented pool lights. This dreamy Mediterranean villa features an infinity edge pool that shines against the night sky because of vibrant, violet lights, strategically placed beneath the water.

Opulent Accent

Make a grand statement and ensure every event at your home is one to remember by illuminating your outdoor dining space with an ornate chandelier. Don’t be afraid to mix up your contemporary space with an overdressed light fixture, friends. We’re swooning over the cool contrast at play between the traditional, maximalist-style crystal chandeliers and the contemporary woven chairs and dining table.

Fairy-Light Chandelier

A woven "chandelier" of tiny fairy lights combines with topiaries in concrete urns, shade-loving hostas, and an ancient-looking bust to create an enchanted garden under a massive evergreen tree.

Wall Art

String up lights and lanterns around your outdoor space to give an enchanting twinkle to any garden party. The soft glow will invite everyone to linger outside in the nighttime summer air. Line lanterns and smaller string lights around your seating area, and hang a few off tree branches for a touch of ambiance.

DIY Tabletop Fire Place

Give your party a little ambiance (fast!) with a DIY ceramic pot fire pit that doubles as a centerpiece. Best part? It can be put together in under 15 minutes.

MAKE IT: Make a Tabletop Fireplace for Your Party in 15 Minutes

Dainty Details

Electrical lighting may be necessary in your outdoor space at night, but why not add a bit of elegance with a more natural light source? Floating votive candles add intimacy in detail and lighting.

Magic Touches

Skip the traditional candles and toss a tangle of battery operated lights into your outdoor lanterns for amped up, magical ambiance. We envision the dainty twinkles pictured above being ideal for an intimate, adult dinner party or a perfect, playful touch for a fantastical-themed birthday party.

Enhance Your Umbrella

Cast a gorgeous glow on your outdoor dining table by hanging string bistro lights around the edge of your umbrella. The charming set up is our go-to in a pinch because it’s easy to achieve on a budget and instantly sets the tone in your backyard for special summer events.

Handmade Tin Can Lanterns

Light up lazy summer nights with these almost-free outdoor luminaries.

MAKE IT: How to Make Tin Can Lanterns

Glowing Combo

Go for a natural glow this summer and brighten up your outdoor space with a bohemian, rattan pendant light. The lightweight, honey-toned material makes a stunning accent that pairs easily with traditional wicker lounges and funky, colorful bistro sets alike. Style solo for a minimalist look or dangle among twinkling string lights for maximum wow-factor.

Streamers & Gleamers

Take basic bistro lights up a notch by wrapping the bulbs in strips of sheer ribbon to match the theme of your party.

Subtle Whimsy

This striking outdoor design features chic spotlights around the poolside bar and achieves a playful, party-ready look by dangling dainty globes from the tree branches that line the pool. Fasten similar, budget-friendly globes to your trees to add a whimsical look to your outdoor next outdoor event.

Illuminated Planters

Great for outdoor areas that your landscape lighting doesn't reach, these oversized, glowing planters offer vibrant color by day and romantic light by night.

Bohemian Floor Lamp

Who said floor lamps are reserved for indoors? This funky, bamboo and coral-orb floor lamp adds punch and personality to this covered patio space. Recreate our bohemian light design to deck out your digs for summer socializing.

Jazz Up Your Patio With an Outdoor Floor Lamp and Planter In-One

Old School Ambiance

Candles are the OG of event lighting and they’re still going strong as one of our favorite ways to wow guests at outdoor parties. Recreate this stunning setup for your next al fresco affair with glass candlesticks and slender taper candles. The best part? Tapers are the glowing gift that keep on giving throughout the night. Their melting wax creates a striking and elegant effect that brings about an air of romance to any table or buffet.

Pretty for Pennies

Put those ever-popular (and cheap!) mason jars to good use by filling them with sand, adding votives and turning them into walkway lanterns for your next summer shindig.

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