The domain of entertainment lighting was previously limited to theatre, film and television. However, over the last two decades, it has grown to span education, trade shows, ordinary parties, worship services, and corporate events.
For functional creative lighting, it is important to follow some criteria. For example, visibility. The audience should be able to view precisely what you want them to visualise. Or not see things that are intended to remain hidden (selective visibility).
Another considerable criterion is mood. This sets the tone for the event. For instance, comic events might dictate bright and cheery lighting design. On the other hand, dramas dictate darker light direction with shadows.
How do you set up lighting for an event?
Before setting up the lighting for your event, there are a few critical questions you should answer. These questions are vital regardless of whether it’s your own event, or one you are hired to execute.
- Is there a budget for the event?
- What type of function is it– awards ceremony, gala, church event, wedding?
- Where will the event be hosted, for instance, hotel ballroom, convention centre, church, tent?
- Is there a planned theme or colour scheme?
- Will food be provided? If so, buffet-style or table service?
- Will there be tables? How big will they be?
- How many guests will be in attendance?
- Will there be other centrepieces or other displays?
- What are the dimensions of the room, and ceiling heights?
- Are there permanent light fixtures present, like chandeliers?
- Will there be dancing, a band, or speakers, or other event technology?
- What is the event timeline?
- Will other vendors be setting up at the same time?
- Is there a room for extra rental equipment to be stored?
- What are there any insurance requirements for the venue?
- Are there any municipal or facility regulations to be aware of?
After these questions have been sufficiently answered, then you can make the considerations below:
- Layout a detailed project plan.
- Prioritise using coloured lights to dictate the mood and audience experience.
- Be as creative as possible.
- Highlight the areas that the event-goers will spend the most time around, or will need to be able to see.
- Don’t forget about the exterior lighting fixtures.
- Ensure to prioritise using LED Lights over tungsten equivalents.
- Consider employing lighting effects to act a bit of dynamism.
Professional event lighting design ideas
Creative event lighting revolves around how you manipulate and exploit different event lighting systems and technologies. As we delve into the different event lighting ideas, let’s split them into two.
Indoor event lighting ideas
1. Lighting Box
This idea involves employing trailing lights to achieve a unique aesthetic within a larger venue. Whether it’s a VIP enclosure, or an intimate seating area. A lighting box innovatively uses event lighting to get an effect of seclusion that can facilitate a more intimate ‘feeling’.
2. LED Chandelier
LED tube light chandeliers are used to create a quirky effect. This effect, when combined with the multiple colour options, tends to provide a statement piece that can suit the opening of an art gala or an awards show.
3. Illuminated Crystal Trees
Illuminated indoor crystal trees are unique lighting fixtures that add elegance while also providing a great light source. Essentially, the combination of crystal and lighting transforms any location into an otherworldly feeling décor.
4. Bar Up Lights
Such a lighting design can accentuate any bar and pub. Furthermore, using LEDs or disco lights to highlight signature drinks, bottles or cocktails is one way to increase sales.
Additionally, it can make waiting at the bar more interesting and interactive, improving the overall event experience.
4. High Lit Tables
You can use high lit tables to accentuate furniture by adding unique lighting and stretchy fabric. Perfect for a cocktail event, this cool effect can be used to create a mood. Or to simply help make furniture stand out for calm evening events.
Outdoor Event Lighting Ideas
1. Bistro Lighting
Elegant bistro lighting can add spice to your outdoor event. As a low-cost event lighting idea, bistro lights can be procured quite easily and can even be constructed as a temporary solution for outdoor events.
2. Novelty lights
Novelty lights can be a centrepiece within the venue space. These lights can be chandeliers or other unique lighting fixtures installed at an event, almost like an art piece. Therefore, delivering more design over functionality,and definitely making a statement at your event.
3. Kinetic Lighting
Currently, kinetic lights are all the rave at conferences, concerts, and pop-up events. Kinetic lights are one way to impress your guests
By employing LED lights, kinetic lighting is motorised and controlled by a remote computer.
Therefore, giving the illusion that they’re floating or moving on their own.
Fundamentally, the computer software that controls the lights’ movement also allows engineers to input different settings to completely control how the lights move. Or even what colour they are, and even coordinating their movements to music.
4. Using Strategic Uplighting
You can use uplighting to disguise unsightly aspects of a room.
This lighting style typically involves setting the tone for your event by combining fabric panels treatments and LED lights. For example, one can use white sheer fabrics with elegant uplighting to give guests an elegant experience.
Generally, uplights always liven up events and create columns of light on walls, which give the illusion of higher ceilings and wider spaces.
5. Laser lighting
Laser lights have found a home at electronic music festivals and nightclubs. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be creatively used for ordinary events.
Laser lights typically generate hundreds of patterns that come in various colours.
Programmable through lighting consoles, laser lighting can change to the beat of a song, or even bounce around the room.
Furthermore, depending on your creativity, you can use laser lighting to even project images and unique lettering on walls.
6. Balloon Lighting
Balloon lights are gaining popularity as more people get creative with them. Available with warm halogen lighting, these air-inflated fixtures can be utilised indoors or outdoors. For example, either suspended or ground-supported.
Furthermore, the balloons can easily be customised to a specific event theme. Or even highlight a company’s logo.
7. Projection Lighting / Mapping (3-D)
Projection mapping technology essentially turns your projector into a lighting instrument.
This ground-breaking technology projects light onto any surface, turning it into an immersive and engaging display for imagery or video.
Projection mapping can even be used to add texture to tables, centrepieces, and stage floors. Basically, pretty much every physical surface.
8. DIY Light Jars
Suppose you’re on a budget. DIY Jars are perfect for lighting any outdoor space—for example, an altar, or even as table decor. Additionally, you could opt for unique colours and add a layer of protection by introducing a lid. Especially if they are being used outside.
9. Outdoor lighting strands
You can employ outdoor light strands with naked, oversized bulbs. However, when you hang them, ensure to start at the plug end so that you do not end up pulling them so far away that they fail to reach the outlet.
Furthermore, ensure to invest in glass bulbs as they are more stylish and cast better light.
10. Use string lights
String lights are popular at outdoor weddings. They are completely customisable to one’s preferences, theme and the size of their event space. They help set the mood for an intimate evening — whether an awards gala or a simple music concert.
11. Make a light show with Perspex.
Perspex is a custom LED light panel signage and edging brand that provides products for display business names, highlight sponsors, or emphasise event taglines at corporate events.
12. Placing pin lights within or around table centrepieces.
If your event is at night, or during the day in a venue without windows, consider adding pin lights to your overall lighting scheme. They create a cosy ambience, highlight centrepiece design details, and add a high-end layered look to your lighting design.
13. Line staircases with wide pillar candles
Consider lining staircases with battery-operated wide pillar candles at varying heights if you’re considering both minimalist and maximalist event styles.
14. Display logos as cut silhouettes.
To achieve this, you can employ a software program like Silhouette Studio to convert a JPEG file into a DIY cut out for your lighting fixtures.
15. Use vintage lanterns in dark corners or spaces.
Interestingly, vintage lanterns always introduce a touch of nostalgic character to any event. They can be found in any thrift shop. Or you can order premade ones or learn how to antique a lantern.
16. Use Luminous garlands
Garlands can be used in gardens or on terraces. Especially if you desire a more rustic feel. Multiple types of luminous garlands currently exist in different materials. However, garlands with bulbs seem to be the most common. But do not worry, they are made to withstand a little dampness or rain.
17. Use Gobos
Gobos are basically projections of logos or a series of fixed images. These light fixtures can move or be aimed at a specific part of a room. They are particularly well suited for corporate event branding.
18. Hanging glass orbs filled with candles.
If your event transitions from day to night, ensure to employ remote-control battery candles with your hanging glass orbs. This will help you avoid getting on a ladder to turn them on after it gets dark.
19. Employ giant initial letters.
You can find marquee light up letters on sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay in different styles ranging from modern to rustic.
20. Try black light
Black light is typically used in nightclubs and bars. However, one can achieve very surprising effects with black light if used correctly. For instance, because white surfaces tend to shine more with this light, it can be a very original, fun resource for Halloween themed parties.
The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “Lighting Systems”