There’s nothing more welcoming than a gently illuminated pergola. Not only does it add a breathtaking aesthetic to your garden or patio, but it also ensures guests will enjoy an ambient atmosphere long after the sun goes down.
And in good news, there’s a style to suit everyone and any type of structure. From strip lights to curtain lights to downlighters and pendants, your options are vast for selecting the perfect look to suit your taste.
In this article, I’ll take you through 11 spectacular lighting ideas to brighten up your pergola and add a facelift to your backyard.
1. Install Outdoor Curtain Lights to Add Softness to Your Structure
Topping our list is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to light up your pergola. LED string lights, available for sale online or at most garden centers, are a budget-friendly option for outdoor structures that you can easily install in just a few hours.
All you need to do is attach them to your horizontal roof beams (equal distances from one another), and you’re good to go. String lights are durable, waterproof, and available in both plug-in and solar options, depending on your preference. We love the simple but effective design shown in this example. And btw, it is solar.
Erecting curtains of string lights breaks the starkness of an otherwise straightforward structure, enclosing two sides for added ambiance and privacy. Perfect for an evening spent entertaining outdoors, and you won’t break the bank in the process.
2. Glow Up Your Pergola Ceiling With Mesh Lights
Brighten your entire garden by erecting a LED string light net across the top of your pergola or gazebo. As far as outdoor lighting goes, this is a relatively affordable option, and you have various choices in terms of prefabricated sizing.
Why do we love it? A top-hung LED net appears like an overhead galaxy. It’s stylish, romantic, and classic. The multiplicity of lights is also practical, as these nets go a long way to lighting up your space. If you choose to go with a solar-powered mesh, you won’t even need to manage it – just wait for the sun to go down and watch your pergola light up.
And the best news? You can install this yourself without the need for fancy tools or an electrician. A few galvanized, weather-resistant staples and accurate measuring should do the trick.
3. Impress Your Guests with Voice Activated Lighting
If you’re an avid outdoor entertainer, you can elevate your hosting skills by embracing one of our new favorite things: voice-activated or smartphone-controlled lighting. This nifty trick is sure to have your guests smiling from ear to ear. It’s convenient – no more looking for switches to turn on and off – and most apps have options, too, in terms of color temperature, brightness, patterning, and so forth.
This example showcases big-bulb festoon lights, which are very on trend right now, but with a bit of research, you’ll find options for various other styles too.
4. Match the Modern Style of Your Pergola with Integrated Strip Lights
If you’re looking for something a bit sleeker than fairy lights or festoons, LED strip lights are the way to go. This modern aesthetic can be seamlessly integrated into your existing pergola, meaning you won’t even notice they’re there until the sun goes down.
Using the natural lines of your framework, you can install strips along your ceiling structure for flattering downlighting or upwards against your vertical beams. That said, nothing is stopping you from doing both.
The modern pergola in this example is ideally suited to integrated strip lights. In a warm white, they provide an unobtrusive glow that is welcoming without being overwhelming. LED strips are also easy and quick to install and are more affordable than many other modern lighting options.
5. Include a Built-in Power Port for Your Festoon Lighting
Festoon lights have been popular and trendy since the 1950s, when they first appeared on the scene at festivals and carnivals all over the United States. Today, we find them everywhere, at restaurants and cafes, or strung across gardens and pavilions. In appearance, they look like garlands of dangling lightbulbs, instantly creating a warm glow and a happy-go-lucky atmosphere.
Festoon lights are a great choice for adorning your gazebo or pergola. They’re easy to install and, from a practical standpoint, provide a fair amount of light. You can wrap them around your support beams or attach them with hooks or staples. Uniform strands provide a modern, uncluttered look, but you can also crisscross them for a more relaxed feel, depending on your personal taste.
This type of lighting requires an electric outlet that is often available at the distance, on the house wall. You can attach a power port to your pergola and have it connected to the outlet using a hidden underground wire. This way you can conveniently turn on and off your lights without exiting the pergola. Plus you can charge your phone and plug in other electric devices as needed.
6. Install a Chic Chandelier for Instant Elegance
Who said chandeliers are only for indoors? Nothing adds a pop of grace to your pergola quite like a stunning lighting centerpiece. This is especially effective if you use your outdoor structure for hosting meals or drinks evenings. Although, that said, having a chandelier suspended from your ceiling looks fancy any time of day.
When shopping for your light fitting, you’ll also be pleased to learn you have plenty of options at your disposal. From modern looks to vintage, ornate designs, it’s really up to you to decide what best suits your particular garden. Consider a light fan combination as well.
7. Create an Illusion of Starry Night with an LED Sunshade
If you’re hoping to light up your deck or patio on a budget, this is an excellent option that doesn’t require erecting a permanent structure. It also serves a dual purpose, acting as a sunshade during the day and a starry blanket of LEDs at night.
For this lighting idea, you can purchase a sunshade with LEDs already installed or attach string lights yourself. For the latter, you’ll just need to ensure they’re pulled taut and firmly tacked to prevent a messy presentation.
Sunshades are a genius way to create a makeshift pergola or faux roof.
8. Create a Dreamy Atmosphere with Boho Solar Lanterns
Solar lanterns are a beautiful, affordable way to jazz up your outdoor space. They’re an especially great complement to laid-back outdoor furniture, patterned cushions, and plenty of greenery. Personally, I love this combination of festoon garlands and lanterns in different sizes. Both can be easily installed in less than an afternoon and are available in plug-in or solar options.
With this kind of décor, texture is the name of the game, so consider incorporating various colors and materials to really give your space a bohemian flair. Guests will love the relaxed atmosphere, especially once it starts to get dark and the pergola becomes awash with soft light.
9. Go with Decorative and Delightful Rattan LED String Light Lanterns
So often, we focus more on the practical aspect of lighting than the decorative, especially when it comes to illuminating our outdoor spaces. However, a beautiful string of rattan lanterns like these tackles both birds with one stone, adding an ambient glow to your space while also forming a significant part of your pergola’s aesthetic. Rattan is an excellent choice for the outdoors, given its durability versus paper or fabric lanterns. Isn’t this so much more striking than bare lightbulbs?
10. Tuck Away Festoon Downlighters for Cozy Nooks and Crannies
Smaller spaces benefit greatly from good lighting, as it makes them all the more atmospheric and cozy. In this example, the designer has cleverly incorporated tautly strung festoon lights to serve as downlighters, adding a gorgeous glow to a lovely corner pergola.
Furthermore, lanterns and solar lights line the edges of the structure, meaning guests will receive light both from above and alongside their seating. Texture and greenery complete this stylish look, and the combination makes this pergola feel incredibly welcoming.
11. Create a Sense of Luxury with Super Stylish Hanging Pendants
Height and depth go a long way to adding visual interest to a room. To give your pergola added dimension, consider investing in some stylish pendant lights, which look especially good hung over your outdoor dining area. Intentional lighting draws attention to specific focal regions you’d like to highlight, like a table or seating area.
Up the ambiance with lanterns and candles, or in this case, with a canopy of foliage. Doesn’t this look like an absolute luxury wonderland?