Christmas lights on trees

Ideas for festive lighting

Use outdoor lighting to bring festive cheer to your garden at night time.

Bring your garden to life as night falls, using lighting to add sparkle for the festive season and beyond. You can keep things simple with battery-operated lights, which are perfect for a small, quick fix. Alternatively, if you want a larger festive display or something more permanent, then consider mains-powered products.

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As a rule, ice-white lights are blue-ish and provide a modern, contemporary look, while warm-white lights are yellow-toned, creating a more traditional feel.

Solar-powered lights have improved in recent years and most perform well in low winter light levels, although their glow will be a little dimmer than a battery or mains-powered product. Candle-lit lanterns are great for a fast transformation of a party space. As winter nights draw in, lighting gives your garden seasonal sparkle and atmosphere.

As a rule, ice-white lights are blue-ish and provide a modern, contemporary look, while warm-white lights are yellow-toned, creating a more traditional feel. Multi-coloured lights are guaranteed to create a sense of fun – just take your pick. If you’re worried about the electricity bill, follow our advice to ensure your lights are as cost-effective as possible, and use our handy hints to ensure Christmas displays are simple to create.

Browse our suggestions for festive lighting, below.


Use lanterns

Lanterns hanging from a tree
Lanterns hanging from a tree

Candlelit lanterns are an easy and cost-efficient way to add a touch of drama to the garden on winter evenings. Moroccan-style lanterns have metal lattice work, which will prevent the candles from blowing out.


Wrap lights around a tree

Christmas lights on trees
Christmas lights on trees

Transform a tree with a string of LED lights. Simply attach them to an outdoor extension cord and then wrap the lights around the trunk of the tree at the base, working upwards. Aim for uniform spacing between each wraparound.


Use a spotlight

Spotlight on ornamental grass
Spotlight on ornamental grass

Use a spotlight to set off the best features of a shrub or ornamental grass, which can also be used to throw soft light onto a nearby border or path. Fitted to a spike, you simply plunge the light into the ground and direct the beam of light towards the plant you want to highlight. Both mains-powered and solar-powered options are available.

Safety considerations

  • Only use lights which are approved for outdoor use and are supplied with a transformer.
  • Make sure outdoor lighting is RCD-protected – this is a circuit. breaker that cuts off electricity if a cable is cut accidentally.
  • Look for the IP rating on light fittings – the higher the rating, the more robust and resistant to weather the product will be.
  • Choose lights with a CE safety symbol and BEAB Approved Mark.
  • Use a qualified electrician to install outdoor plug sockets and permanent lighting displays.
  • Remember to never leave a naked flame close to dry/ flammable materials


Illuminate pathways

Strawberry pots used to create dramatic lighting
Strawberry pots used to create dramatic lighting

For a large-scale version of using candle lanterns, repurpose terracotta strawberry pots by popping large candles inside them. Three or four placed along a pathway will cast a gentle glow without an upward glare.


Enhance a door display

Christmas light decoration on front door
Christmas light decoration on front door

Use outdoor fairy lights to enhance seasonal foliage and seedheads, home-made wreaths and other front door displays. Battery powered packs are available – simply hide the battery back at the back of the display.


Use topiary

Outdoor Christmas tree decoration
Outdoor topiary decoration
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Work some creative magic into existing topiary structures with a string of outdoor fairy lights. As with the front-door display, use battery-powered fairy lights and conceal the battery pack among the foliage.


Save money and energy

  • Use LED lights. They last up to 10 times longer than halogen bulbs and are cheaper to run, coming in wattage as low as 1W.
  • Use a timer for garden lights to keep electricity consumption low.
  • Invest in good quality fittings that allow you to change bulbs and avoid having to buy a new fitting when the bulb blows.
  • Use solar-powered lights for year-round displays that cost nothing to run.