Patio lighting ideas: 16 ways to illuminate your plot with pendants, fairy lights, stakes and more

These stunning patio lighting ideas will add an extra dose of ambience to your plot

patio lighting ideas: festoons and lanterns under pergola
(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Our patio lighting ideas won't just bring your garden to life when the sun goes down. They'll make your garden feel more secure, create different moods for different occasions and highlight what may well be the social epicentre of your space. 

Every outdoor seating area needs a stunning lighting solution. And, if you’re looking for inspo beyond the patio, take a look at our other garden lighting ideas, too! 

‘There are so many choices when it comes to styling patios – it’s a great chance to get creative,’ says the team at Lights4Fun. ‘Our golden rule is to illuminate at three levels, focusing on the floor, table tops and overhead.’

Think fairy lights to transform your patio into a fairy-tale haven, bohemian-chic lanterns to accompany evening drinks, and galvanised wall lights to show off a contemporary space, for example. ‘With so many things, less is more, but not when it comes to garden lighting,‘ says interior blogger Wilshere Interior.

Patio lighting is important for safety reasons too – from spotlights to highlight the boundaries to pendant lights to help you see what’s what in your outdoor kitchen! Don’t forget you can go for LEDs or solar-powered versions for energy-efficient options.

And, if you’re looking for a bit more pizazz for your patio, try experimenting with colour-changing lights. Just pop on the tunes, crank up the barbecue, and bring the party outside – your guests will be wowed by your choice of the best outdoor lights!

So read on to find out more, and get ready to turn up the ambience for your next evening spent outdoors.

1. Create a vintage feel with bulbs

patio lighting ideas: vintage bulbs

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Dress your courtyard or patio in vintage-style bulbs for an on-trend look. Their stripped-back style provides a pleasing aesthetic with their exposed filaments.

The subtle light of these types of bulbs means you can group more than one together, for an inviting glow without glare. Just hang above outdoor seating for an industrial vibe. 

Try pairing with dark paint colours (such as hues of grey – the 2021 trend you need to know about!) for an extra moody feel.

2. Hang festoons for a rooftop-bar vibe

patio lighting ideas: festoon lights over patio lights4fun

Strings of festoon lights adds sparkle to this space

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Choose festoon lighting for strings of oversized bulbs with an ambient glow, reminiscent of festivals. 

There are other kinds to consider, too. Have a look for fluted, crackle-effect, or even Edison-style varieties. All are alternative ways to bring a romantic, cafe-culture feel to your space.

Although particularly popular for special occasions, such as intimate gatherings with loved ones or low-key outdoor wedding receptions, these types of lights will elevate your patio all year round. Check out our other festoon light ideas for more inspiration.

3. Transport to warmer climates with Moroccan lanterns

patio lighting ideas: moroccan lanterns

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Add an exotic air of northern Africa with Moroccan-inspired lighting. A string of lanterns is perfect to decorate a patio fence, exterior wall or beneath a pergola. 'Add pattered Moroccan style lanterns on tabletops and on the edge of benches – their intricate designs will really bring your space to life as the sun sets,' suggests the team at Lights4fun. 

Why not add colourful outdoor cushions or rugs, and invest in some patterned tiles too, to create a luxurious haven reminiscent of Marrakech. A perfect vibe for long summer evenings.

4. Create impact with masses of paper-effect shades

patio lighting ideas: paper lanterns

Paper-effect shades are a simple yet stunning way to light up patios

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paper shades may look lovely, but they’re not the hardiest against wet weather! But no need to worry, just opt for a paper-effect shade instead. 

Solar-powered varieties are great options for the summer and look elegant swaying in a gentle breeze. Hang from pergolas, gazebos, or along a string of jute, to bring a laid-back, beach-party feel to your patio.

5. Turn up the romance with candles

patio lighting ideas: candles Lights4Fun

Don't forget the classic candle for a cosy vibe

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Candles will always add an air of romance to a scene. But, if you’re anxious about open flames, battery-powered versions are just as pretty. Why not cluster a few of various heights, to add a cosy focal point to a patio corner?

Arrange tea-lights on tables to light up an evening meal with friends. Or, use lanterns with patterned sides, to create decorative shadows along with their tempting glow. 

6. Use modern pendants for an indoor-outdoor feel

patio lighting ideas: pendant lights

Simple pendant lighting lets the surroundings do the talking

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If contemporary looks are your thing, why not add a simple pendant light or two to your patio? Minimal designs allow light to bounce across sleek surfaces and create reflections on nearby water, whilst providing ample light. 

Check out this stunning example, where two pendants illuminate the best garden furniture to make an indoor-outdoor seating area even more enticing. Their understated vibe allows the surroundings to take centre stage.

7. Experiment with shadows using LED lanterns

patio lighting ideas: LED lantern lime lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

‘LED candles and electric lanterns are perfect for adding instant ambience,’ says Paul Bevington of Kettler. And, with less fire-related risks involved, they’re great for having around kids and pets.

Choose modern designs for stylish yet practical solutions. And if you’re looking for something really special, opt for remote-control options with multi-colour functions. You’ll be able to set the perfect mood, all from the comfort of your chair. 

8. Keep it subtle with spotlights

patio lighting ideas: spotlights

Subtle ceiling lighting illuminates this modern patio in style

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don’t underestimate the power of simple spotlights, as sometimes they’re all you need to provide practical, yet stylish effects.

Added to decking, ceilings or fences, they can provide fuss-free illumination that shows off your patio’s best features. They are also great for functional areas, such as outdoor cooking areas.

9. Go bold with colourful cubes

patio lighting ideas: Multi Coloured Outdoor LED Cube Table by Moree

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

If you’re looking to inject a sense of fun into your patio, then keep an eye out for brightly coloured lights in funky shapes.

Giant LED versions in adjustable colours are a great focal point for the garden, and even better if they double up as furniture. Whether using as a table or chair, they’ll be sure to cause a stir.

10. Use allium-shaped stakes for a focal point

patio lighting ideas: Sarah Raven Allium Lit Stakes

Allium Lit Stakes from Sarah Raven

(Image credit: Jonathan Buckley/Sarah Raven)

How about introducing some sculptural stakes to your patio’s lighting scheme? Styles reminiscent of flower heads, with twinkly lights at the tips, are lovely ways to add interest to nearby containers, whilst making your space feel magical. 

They could also be used alongside a hedge or lawn to illuminate the boundaries. Their soft light will certainly add to the ambience.

11. Keep it chic with small lights

patio lighting ideas: small spotlights in decking

Simple, small lighting comes together to create a stylish impact

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A neatly laid-out scheme of identical lights can create a pleasing effect. Symmetrical positioning will also add a sense of cohesion to your patio and works particularly well on spaces enclosed by garden walls or short fences. 

Go for minimal, metal finishes for a modern effect.

12. Introduce uplights to show off key features

patio lighting ideas: up-lighting plants wilshere interior

Strip lights and uplights makes these plants easy to admire from the patio, by interior blogger Wilshere Interior

(Image credit: @wilshereinterior)

If your patio features your favourite plant, or perhaps is edged by an eye-catching border, then why not use lighting to show it off? 

Small spotlights on spikes are great for discreetly positioning in soil, and bringing foliage, grasses and flowers to life once the sun sets. 

Think about flexibility, too – adjustable lights can be moved throughout the seasons, to highlight the plants that look best.

13. Try a nautical vibe with traditional lanterns

patio lighting ideas: lantern with fairy lights

Fill a traditional lantern with fairy lights for a magical touch

(Image credit: Matheus Kohler/Usplash)

If your garden has a coastal theme, nautical-style lighting will really bring it to life. Try traditional lanterns and fisherman-style lamps, in finishes of antique chrome, brass or copper.

This type of lighting looks especially stunning with decking – so why not give it a  go?

14. Combine light and warmth with a light-up patio heater

patio lighting ideas: Terrace Table Top Electric Heater Kettler

(Image credit: Kettler)

‘Floor standing and tabletop heaters offer fantastic value for money as a source of warmth, as well as lighting,’ says Paul Bevington from Kettler. 

Look for stylish options that will work as an attractive feature for your patio, as well as being functional. Then, enjoy making the most of your garden all year round, as you bask in their warm glow.

You'll find all the best buys for your heating needs in our best patio heaters feature. 

15. Highlight stunning water fountains

patio lighting ideas: illuminated water feature lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

‘Illuminated fountains are the perfect statement piece that’ll also take your tranquil space to the next level,’ says the team at Lights4fun. ‘As the sun sets you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the soft glow of your patio lights.’

With the peaceful trickle of water and perhaps an iced drink in hand, what could be more relaxing than including stunning water feature ideas in your space? 

16. Take fairy lights to the next level

patio lighting ideas: moroccan lanterns Cox & Cox

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

‘We just LOVE fairy lights for giving your outdoor space a magical feel,’ says the team at Lime Lace, and we couldn’t agree more! You can string them along fences or around nearby trees, and they work just as well inside lanterns.

Keep an eye out for decorative versions such as these ones by Cox & Cox for an extra special glow. A subtle and affordable focal point for any patio.

How do you light a patio without electricity?

‘Nowadays, it is simpler than ever to illuminate an outdoor space without access to power,’ says Lights4fun. ‘From battery powered to solar, the choices are endless in terms of decorative lighting. You can find stylish battery powered lanterns, outdoor candles, fairy lights, festoons and many more.’

‘Our battery powered lights also come with an integral six hour timer, which will automatically switch your lights on and off.’

‘Solar lights are an equally handy option for giving your garden the perfect summer glow, soaking in the sunshine throughout the day and illuminating automatically at dusk, thanks to their handy daylight sensor.’

‘If you’ve not got power to your garden, solar powered lights are a great option,’ agrees the team at Lime Lace. Take a look at our pick of the best solar lights to get started.

What is the best way to hang outdoor string lights?

patio lighting ideas: string lights around tree

Wrap smaller string lights around tree trunks for a stunning effect

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

‘String outdoor lights overhead in a canopy-style display  to introduce a little light as darkness falls,’ suggests Lights4fun. ‘To achieve this look, you can add hooks to your exterior walls. But, if you don’t want to leave any permanent marks, you can also use festoon poles staked in the ground or plant pots.’

‘Alternatively, you can drape them along walls to add a touch of ambience whilst you sit back and enjoy the scenery.’

Small, fairy light styles can also be wound around trees to create a magical focal point.

Which is better for outdoor lighting – LED or incandescent?

‘LED lights are undoubtedly the best choice for your home and garden!' says the team at Lights4fun. ‘They can be used around little hands and curious pets safely, as they remain cool to the touch at all times.’

‘LED lights are also incredibly efficient,  on average, you can expect a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours of illumination!’

More garden ideas: 

Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!