Best Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Your Backyard Gazebo

gazebo with lights on at night in a backyard

A gazebo is a great outdoor structure to have in any backyard. It can provide much needed shade during the day, and at night it can be a great outdoor space for relaxing or entertaining. Adding light fixtures to your gazebo is not as complicated as you may think. There are lots of easy ways to add some gazebo lights to your outdoor space.

The best outdoor gazebo lighting ideas include string lights, path lights, pendant lights, and deck lights. Most of the lights are available in solar and low voltage options so you can add lights whether or not you have access to electricity.

Types of Lights: Solar vs Low Voltage

When you first begin considering outdoor lighting ideas for your gazebo, there are two main types of lighting to consider: solar lighting and low voltage lighting.

Solar Lights

With solar gazebo lights, you will have individual lights that derive their energy from the sun and do not need to be wired into your existing electrical system or powered by an extension cord.

Solar gazebo lighting is the easiest to set up as there is no electrical work required, you simply set up the lights wherever you need them so long as the solar panels have access to sunlight. This is one of the easiest ways to add lighting to your gazebo.

Low Voltage Lights

Low voltage lighting will require hardwiring lights into your existing electrical system and while it may be more labor intensive, it greatly expands your lighting options for your outdoor space. You can find tutorials online for how to set them up yourself, or you can hire a landscape lighting expert, or licensed electrician, to set them up for you.

Low voltage lights may be the best option if you are looking for more control over your outdoor lights as you can set them up on a timer so they can be turned off when they are not needed, and they can be set up with a dimmer so you can get just the right amount of light.

Downlighting

backyard gazebo at night showing uplighting vs downlighting
Gazebo showing uplighting vs downlighting

When choosing and setting up any outdoor lights, including gazebo lights, you should always be mindful of what direction the light is going. Outdoor lights should always be aimed downward.

Downlighting has a much smaller contribution to light pollution and should be used instead of uplighting in all outdoor landscaping situations. Most outdoor lights that you will find are LED lights.

When looking for lights for your gazebo be mindful of what direction the light will be going once the lights are installed and look for light fixtures that will be able to direct the light in the direction that you need it.

String Lights

string lights at night
Photo Adobe Stock

Outdoor string lights are one of the main go-to outdoor lighting ideas for good reason. They are relatively easy to set up and they provide a nice comfortable ambiance.

When purchasing outdoor string lights, we do caution that you be mindful of the color temperature of the light. We recommend a yellow to amber color and a brightness of 40 lumens per bulb or less.

Also, check that your string lights are rated for outdoor use.

Outdoor string lights are available in both solar and wired options. The solar string lights have a solar panel on one end that needs to be placed in an area where it will receive adequate sunlight to power the lights. Wired string lights will need to be connected to an outlet or extension cord.

For wired string lights, these are our favorite option. They have a nice warm colored light, are not too bright, and have a unique look with the copper colored shielding.

Tiki Torches

Photo Adobe Stock

Tiki torches can be a great way to add some light to the exterior of your gazebo, especially if it tends to get a little buggy in the summer. Not only are they fun and festive, but if you get the citronella tiki torches, these can help to keep the bugs away. These are also a great option if you don’t have electricity or don’t want the hassle of hanging up lights.

Outdoor Chandeliers

outdoor chandeliers handing from a wooden ceiling
Photo Adobe Stock

If your gazebo has electricity, an outdoor chandelier can add some nice light to your outdoor space, although the ceiling height of the gazebo needs to be considered to see if it is a good fit for an outdoor chandelier. Outdoor chandeliers can add some elegance to your gazebo. These are some of our favorite outdoor chandeliers.

This outdoor chandelier has a nice rustic farmhouse look.

This unique, modern outdoor chandelier is another great option for a gazebo.

With a variety of color options, this is another great outdoor chandelier.

Strip Lights

LED strip lights
Photo Adobe Stock

LED strip lights can be used to add some light to your gazebo, but we offer a word of caution. They tend to be extremely bright; they can be blinding in some cases. So if you are set on this option, we recommend looking for the lowest brightness you can find, as that will still be plenty bright, and using them somewhere such as below a railing or bench where they will be shielded from view.

Fairy Lights

fairy string lights on a table
Photo Adobe Stock

Fairy lights are another great idea for adding lighting to your gazebo. They often have a nice, soft festive light and they come in all kinds of options, battery powered, solar powered, or plug in. Whether or not you have electricity in your gazebo, you can find a set that will work for you.

Paper Lanterns

A fun way to add some light and color to your gazebo is to add some paper lanterns. Paper lanterns are one of the least weather resistant lights in this group, so you will need to make sure they are pretty well shielded from the rain.

Ceiling Fan

Photo Adobe Stock

If your gazebo has electricity, and is large enough, a ceiling fan with lights is an easy way to add some lighting, and to help keep you cool in the warmer months too!

This is a nice classic outdoor ceiling fan, it has a remote control and the light is dimmable too!

This is another simple, modern outdoor ceiling fan, and the light has three different color temperature settings, so you can use a nice warm light while you are out in the gazebo at night.

Last, we have another classic ceiling fan that also features a light with three color temperature settings and six fan speeds, very customizable.

And they all come with a remote control to make adjusting the settings simple and easy!

Pendant Lighting

outdoor pendant light hanging from wooden ceiling
Photo Adobe Stock

Outdoor pendant lights are another great option, assuming you have the ceiling height, and that your gazebo has electricity. There are a lot of great choices for outdoor pendant lights and we have combed through them to give you four of our favorite options.

This is a great option for a farmhouse style look.

If you like barn style lights, this pendant light is a good option.

This hanging pendant light comes in a variety of fun colors.

This metal cage pendant light has a nice decorative finish to add a nice focal point to your gazebo.

And one more, this is a nice simple pendant light with a modern look.

Path Lights

3 varieties of pathway lights
Photos courtesy of Home Depot

Path lights are a great way to add some light to the exterior of your gazebo, and to light the pathway going to the gazebo. These are available in both solar and low voltage options. If you want the most hassle free option, solar is a great choice, but if you have electricity or already have low voltage lighting installed in other areas, the low voltage option opens you to a wider variety of choices and styles.

Solar Path Lights

If you are looking for a quick, low maintenance solution to lighting your pathways or gardens, then solar powered pathway lights are one of the best ways to do it.

Most kinds will automatically turn on and off in response to the ambient outdoor lighting. Here are a few of our favorites:

These solar powered outdoor lights come as a set of 4 and can be placed around your gazebo or along the pathway add some illumination.

These farmhouse style solar lights have a different and unique style from many of the other solar lights that you will typically see. At first glance, you wouldn’t even think they were solar powered lights.

Motion sensing outdoor lights are great if you have an area that needs a little extra light when people are trying to navigate, like a well used path going to your gazebo. These motion sensing solar lights maintain a low brightness from dusk to dawn, then get brighter when motion is detected.

A bonus of using solar outdoor lights? They are ecofriendly as they derive their power from the sun. Not only are they easy to install, but they are environmentally friendly lighting, sounds like a win-win!

Low Voltage Path Lights

Hardwiring lights may be more labor intensive, but it greatly expands your options for landscape lighting ideas. You can find tutorials online for how to set them up yourself, or you can hire a landscape lighting expert to set them up for you. One of the greatest benefits is that you can set them up on a timer so they are on only when needed.

There are countless options for outdoor pathway lights, so we have narrowed it down for you to a few of our favorites.

These modern pathway lights come in a 4 pack, so if you have a larger gazebo and want to place them around the whole exterior, it can be helpful to get a multi pack.

For unique and modern walkway lights that look just as good in the day as they do at night, we recommend these two tone bronze and copper lights.

These mushroom shaped walkway lights provide good illumination to the area around the light, and using multiples will allow you to light around the whole exterior of your gazebo.

This 4 pack of mushroom pathway lights is a modern take on the traditional mushroom style light.

All of these lights aim the light down towards the ground where it is most useful, and shields it from the viewers eyes to prevent glare.

Wall Mounted Deck Lights

wall mounted deck light
Photo Adobe Stock

Attaching lights directly to your gazebo, whether on the interior or the exterior, can give you some nice lighting options. When using post mounted lights, you want to look for lights that are shielded (meaning you can’t see the lightbulb) and lights that are aimed downwards. You can find both solar powered and low voltage versions of these lights. Deck lights tend to work well as mounted gazebo lights.

Solar

This is our favorite solar power mounted light. It just needs to be attached to any gazebo post, and it is shielded and aimed downwards.

These are another great low profile option for gazebo post mounted solar-powered lights.

Low Voltage

If you have electricity in your gazebo, these are some great wall mounted lights.

We love this low voltage option for a mounted gazebo light.

This is another nice low profile low voltage mounted light.

With the right lighting setup, you can make your gazebo into a great backyard retreat.

For more backyard lighting ideas check out our post: Best Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Your Backyard Landscape.

Gazebo Lighting Tips and Best Practices

Gazebo in backyard with seating area
Photo Adobe Stock

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you are planning and designing your gazebo lighting. Lights can be a great addition to your outdoor space, but we have a few best practices to keep in mind.

Be Mindful of Your Neighbors

If you live in an area close to other houses, always be mindful of how your outdoor light will affect your neighbors. Choose lights that will not shine into their yard or windows by choosing lights that are shielded, aimed downwards, and that are not overly bright.

Brightness/Lumens

With so many outdoor lighting fixtures available, choosing one that will suit your needs can be daunting. Brightness of lights is an important factor in choosing what lights will be best for your space and it varies widely among different lighting options. You should aim to choose the least bright light possible that will provide adequate illumination for your outdoor space. It is always better to start with fewer lights, and then add more if needed.

You want to look for a light with a soft glow to make your outdoor area feel welcoming, not a harsh blinding light. Brightness is measured in lumens, and most lights will list the brightness in lumens. A lower number equals a less bright light. For most outdoor lighting needs, you don’t need anything over 700 lumens.

For more information on how bright your outdoor lights should be, check out our post here.

Use Your Lights Only When Needed

Outdoor lights should be on a timer or motion sensor. This will not only prevent unnecessary light use and cut down on light pollution, but it is also a great way save energy and be eco-friendly.

Using lights only when needed is also beneficial for wildlife as well as many animals need the darkness and the cues of the light-dark cycle for migration, reproduction and for feeding. Setting up a timer or motion sensor and turning your pergola lights off after a certain time at night will help restore the darkness which is beneficial to both humans and wildlife.

Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

image of the milky way and trees
Photo Adobe Stock

All of the lights that we recommend can be considered dark sky friendly lighting. How can you tell if a light is dark sky friendly? When you look at the light fixture, you should not be able to see the source of the light (bulb).

We understand that people like to use outdoor lights, whether for aesthetic effects such as highlighting the beauty of your garden gazebo, entertainment, or security, and we want to help people make informed decisions about the lights being used.

You can use outdoor lights at night while still being a friend to the starry sky movement and decreasing your contribution to light pollution!

For more information about light pollution, check out our article What is Light Pollution.

To stay up to date on all things light pollution related, check out and subscribe to our podcast Light Pollution News. We have a new episode every month bringing you the latest news and research about light pollution.

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