Pergola lighting ideas: 12 ways to illuminate your garden structure

From string lights to LED designs, these pergola lighting ideas will instantly elevate your seating space and provide a welcoming glow when evening falls

pergola lighting ideas lights4fun festoons over outdoor dining table
(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Beautiful pergola lighting ideas are a surefire way to boost the ambience of your garden structure. But it's not just about the aesthetics – they're practical too, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor seating space well into the evening.

From twinkling fairy lights to built-in LED strip lights and sleek downlighters, there are all kinds of styles to choose from to include in your pergola ideas. Plus, there are plenty of affordable options if you're on a tighter budget. And if you think these solutions are solely for traditional pergola structures, think again – many can also be used to elevate gazebos or other patio or deck covers.

12 dazzling designs for pergola lighting ideas

To help you get inspired to give your garden structure a glow-up, we've brought together some of our favorite pergola lighting ideas. If you're looking for dazzling outdoor lighting ideas for your yard, then you won't want to miss these.

1. Create a laid-back vibe with festoons

black pergola with festoon lights

Pair modern festoons with an inky-black pergola

(Image credit: Future)

Festoon light ideas are the epitome of cool when it comes to illumination solutions. Offering a laid-back festival vibe, they'll make any outdoor structure feel up-to-date and are easy to install.

Go for a style with larger bulbs for an industrial look, as demonstrated above – a perfect pairing for a charcoal-toned pergola. Bring additional interest and color to the set-up with accessories – a selection of hanging baskets filled with eye-catching foliage and vibrant cushions finish this scene beautifully.

2. Go for smart downlighters

modern black pergola with downlights

These lights may be subtle but they're certainly chic

(Image credit: mike jarman/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you like a minimal and modern look, then a series of sleek downlights may be the best option for you. These pleasingly symmetrical designs look smart, complement the contemporary design, and offer a warm glow to the sun loungers below.

What's more, they highlight the potted trees, showcasing their verdant foliage and architectural form even when night falls. The slatted fence panels have caught our eye too – a great approach for giving the space more definition and privacy. You can find more garden fence ideas in our guide.

3. Opt for integrated LEDs

garden design by consilium hortus featuring modern pergola and fire pit

This contemporary set-up was designed by Consilium Hortus

(Image credit: Consilium Hortus/Photography: Michelle Foulser)

If you're a fan of modern garden ideas, then you may choose to have your pergola lights integrated into the structure itself.

'Within a pergola structure, lighting can be integrated into the framework (cross beams) or louvers (or both) in the form of LED strips, spotlights or a combination of both,' explains Stuart Dantzic, Managing Director at Caribbean Blinds. 'Lighting in the framework can face down (towards the terrace) or up (towards the roof). If you opt for LED lighting – which is usually the most popular – it can either be white or RGB (red, green and blue).'

It's not just lighting that can be built-in. Contemporary pergolas can include heating too, as well as adjustable roofs to make them suitable for use in various weather conditions – as seen in the garden above designed by Consilium Hortus. As our gardens increasingly become an extension of our homes, these types of designs are becoming more and more popular. And don't forget about a fire pit too. They make a lovely centerpoint, and bonus points if they double up as a coffee table.

4. Add a pop of color with solar lanterns

colorful lanterns and string lights from lights4fun around pergola

Bright and bold lanterns from Lights4fun add cheer to this alfresco scene

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Add boho flair to your pergola by layering up festoons with colorful lanterns at different heights. For super-easy maintenance, look for solar-powered designs – that way you won't have to worry about an outdoor plug. Candle-lit lanterns below will make a welcome addition too, only boosting the inviting ambience.

Combine with a canopy of foliage for a particularly enchanting look – you can find our pick of the best climbing plants in our guide.

5. Embrace a luxe look with hanging pendants

modern garden structure with hanging lights from garden house design

This striking Maluwi Canopy from Garden House Design includes chic pendant lights

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

This certainly isn't your standard pergola. In fact, with its waterproof roof and stylish wall panels, it's more of an indoor-outdoor room, and certainly makes a striking statement on a patio

In terms of pergola lighting ideas, the luxe pendants here have caught our attention, suspended from the ceiling with their oversized bulbs. The variety of heights adds a sculptural appeal, too. A large, comfy sofa and a duo of occasional tables finish the space well.

6. Soften a structure with delicate string lights

string lights on black pergola with rudbeckia

These delicate lights balance out a bold black pergola

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

If you want to give your garden structure a twinkling glow but are wary of how much garden lighting costs, then pergola string lighting ideas are a winning solution. They are much more affordable than built-in designs or elaborate pendants, and wrapped around beams, are straightforward to install. 

For the most reliable option, go for an electricity-powered style, but bear in mind you'll need an outdoor plug. Alternatively, you can find string lights with a solar panel which spikes into the ground nearby.

7. Brighten up your alfresco dining scene

lights4fun festoons over outdoor dining table

White festoons from Lights4fun add plenty of elegance to this dining set-up

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

A string of small-bulbed, warm-white festoons are perfect for brightening up an elegant dining scene, whether it's for a special birthday celebration or simply a Friday night dinner with loved ones. 

Add crisp white linen, pillar candles in glass jars, and vintage tableware to set a rustic yet pretty tone. Then, surround with your favorite potted plants for a final finishing touch – your guests will never want to leave.

There are lots more stunning patio lighting ideas in our guide.

8. Boost the ambience with LED candles

string lights and candles from lights4fun around pergola

Create a fairytale vista with candlelight – without the safety risks – with Light4fun's outdoor LED designs

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Love the flicker and romance of candlelight but not too keen on the safety hazards? Waterproof LED designs are the way forward. 

Nowadays, they look almost identical to the real thing, and there's no worry of children or pets knocking them over, or having to relight them every time the wind picks up. 

For ultimate cozy vibes, cluster them in groups around the table or floor beneath your pergola, and add in some string lights around the supports for additional charm. It's a great approach for making your garden party ideas feel extra special, but why not recreate the scene for day-to-day joy?

9. Ramp up the cozy factor with a fireplace and wall lights

pergola with fireplace and wall lights from pooky

We love these modern wall lights from Pooky

(Image credit: Pooky)

When it comes to the best outdoor lights, wall lights have to be one of our favorites. They're practical, don't take up much floor space, and there are lots of gorgeous styles available. So, if your pergola is positioned against a garden boundary, adding a wall light or two to your scheme is a great idea.

To go one step further, incorporate a garden fireplace into the zone too, as demonstrated above. It will keep everyone toasty well into the evening and give the space a real feeling of luxury.

10. Go for an LED chandelier for easy elegance

LED chandelier hanging from pergola

Elevate any outdoor dining experience with an LED chandelier

(Image credit: Patricia Marroquin/Moment/Getty Images)

Boost your outdoor dining ideas with a graceful chandelier overhead. Suspended from your pergola, it will make even a casual weekday breakfast feel fancy, and once night falls, will cast a warm and welcoming glow. 

To give it a botanical edge, wrap faux foliage around the branches. Just remember to choose LED candles rather than real to avoid fire risks.

11. Keep things sleek with spotlights

modern pergola with spotlights and nearby pool

Recessed spotlights add to this contemporary scene

(Image credit: Blake Little/Stone/Getty Images)

Once lit up, a pergola can become a key player in your lighting landscape ideas. Take this design for instance, which makes a stunning nighttime focal point for the plot.

The integrated spotlights are subtle in design yet provide all the illumination needed to enjoy the space at any time. Note how the style is extended throughout the nearby veranda too, for a streamlined and harmonious look.

12. Create a twinkling wall of lights

ornate panel from screen with envy, pergola, and curtain lights

This pergola, featuring stylish ornate panels from Screen with Envy, looks magical with its wall of fairy lights

(Image credit: Screen with Envy)

A net or 'curtain' of fairy lights is 'not only a super stylish choice, but they are also a fabulous way of unveiling a wall-like design as they are hung from the sides of your structure,' says the team at Lights4fun

'Elegantly dropping vertically from the ceiling to the floor, curtain lights are sure to add grace to your display.' Judging by this pretty example above, we couldn't agree more. Using subtly reflective materials, such as paving with a slight sheen, will help to bounce the light around for an even more dramatic look.

What should you consider when choosing integrated LED pergola lighting?

Stuart Dantzic, Managing Director at Caribbean Blinds, shares his top tips when considering integrated LED pergola lighting ideas.

  • Stuart recommends opting for LED strip lighting in the framework.
  • 'Always go for downlighting – uplighting is fancy but serves little function,' he says.
  • In terms of color, 'warm white lighting is most practical and creates a perfect ambience.'
  • 'Dimmable receivers should be the norm, but always check – that way you can set the scene.'
  • Bear in mind that you often lose some light in the framework when using recessed spotlights – 'they don’t provide the same level of even lighting as LED strips.'

outdoor living pod from Caribbean Blinds with LED lighting

The Outdoor Living Pod from Caribbean Blinds features an adjustable roof and integrated LED lighting

(Image credit: Caribbean Blinds)

How do you hang fairy lights on a pergola?

If you have a traditional pergola structure, installing string lights is quick and easy to do. 

Make sure you pick outdoor lights that will stand up to seasonal weather conditions. It's a good idea to measure your pergola before you get started, to work out roughly the length of lighting you will need.

Using a stepladder (following safety precautions) you can wrap fairy lights up and over the beams, securing with a staple gun and U-shaped galvanized staples specifically designed for wires and cables. Alternatively, you can attach them just to the bottom of the beams, working in a zig-zag or straight pattern or just around the perimeter – whatever works for you. You can also wrap fairy lights around the posts of your pergola. Keep the lights switched off and unplugged whilst you are installing them.

'Wrapping the lights closer together will give a fuller look and a brighter glow,' explains the team at Lights4fun. Not sure how many you’ll need? There are plenty of shorter, connectable string lengths available. These 'allow you to connect multiple lengths together for an eye-catching display,' they add.

For heavier string lights, such as festoon lights, you may need to use something a little more sturdy than metal staples, such as metal hooks screwed into the structure.

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!