24 balcony lighting ideas to create a cozy outdoor atmosphere

Our beautiful balcony lighting ideas will give you lots of inspiration to brighten up your space throughout the year

tropical balcony with string lantern lights from Ikea
(Image credit: Ikea)

Need a dose of inspiration for your balcony lighting ideas? There are plenty of interesting ways to add some atmospheric ambiance – and the best outdoor lighting ideas for smaller spaces are all here for you to explore. Why not add some magic with a curtain of fairy lights, or place a flickering firefly lantern beside your seating area? You can swag your space with beautiful festoon lights too, and illuminate the walls with softly directed wall lamps. 

Lighting is an essential element of any good balcony space. Marlena Kaminska, a designer at Value Lights, explains that not only does lighting increase functionality, allowing you to enjoy the space no matter the season, but choosing the right lighting is also central to creating an inviting atmosphere.

'Outdoor lighting doesn’t just have to be practical though: there are plenty of modern lighting options that can visually take your balcony to the next level in terms of design and style. When it comes to accent lighting, we suggest starting by thinking about the mood you want to create,' Marlena says. 

24 gorgeous balcony lighting ideas for your outdoor space

Whatever your favored aesthetic might be, find your perfect lighting option to complement your balcony ideas.

1. Add a modern touch with festoon lights 

lights4fun festoon lights outdoors

Festoons from Lights4fun add a contemporary aesthetic

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Festoon lights are an absolute classic for balcony decoration, with plenty of styles and colors available. You can make a big visual impact with the best festoon lights strung across the walls, and choosing bigger bulbs placed up high can really add a sense of depth to your space. 

'Begin to zig-zag each string of festoon lights overhead, securing in place with hook screws or cable ties to create a twinkly canopy to complement the night sky,' Emily Kelsey of Lights4Fun suggests. 

'Alternatively, loop the string of festoon lights along the balustrade of your balcony, securing it in place with cable ties for a tranquil after-dark glow.'

5. Boost the romance with lanterns

lanterns by Ivyline on balcony

The Grace Tall Lantern in Acacia Wood and Black from Ivyline adds an elegant touch, and there are two sizes available

(Image credit: Ivyline)

Lanterns filled with candles bring in a sense of romance to an outdoor space and are perfect for curating a cozy balcony scene. Marlena Kaminska suggests using LED candles: they have all of the ambiance-boosting charm but without the risk of real flames.

'Designed to flicker like real candles, they’re perfect for creating a seamless transition between your indoor and outdoor spaces,' Marlena says. These LED candles can be left outdoors all the time.

9. Add a practical wall light to your balcony

wall lamp on balcony

A functional yet chic wall light from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Wall lights are a fantastic way to add no-fuss illumination to a balcony, along with a touch of elegance and class.

Ben Marshall, Creative Director at Hudson Valley Lighting Group, says balanced sconces are the way to go, as they can flank the balcony with even mood lighting. 'Put these sconces on a dimmer switch,' Ben says, 'so you can define the mood versus having hot bright light in your face while you are trying to take in a moment. 

'If you do switch the sconces up, I would recommend indirect lighting – a wall wash so that light is never glaring.'

13. Go for the easy option with cordless lights

cordless green sphere lights from Solar Centre

ShapeLights from Solar Centre add a modern and colorful accent

(Image credit: Solar Centre)

Don't want to worry about sourcing a plug for your balcony lighting ideas? Look for designs that don't need one. Battery-powered or chargeable options are the way forward. Or, if you have an open balcony with plenty of sunshine, Thalia Shaw at Sparkle Lighting recommends using solar lights.

These styles shown above can be powered in multiple ways, and they are sure to turn heads with their soothing glow that cycles through different hues.

17. Save space on your balcony with pendant lights 

paper pendant lanterns from Ikea on balcony

Pendant lights, such as these lanterns from Ikea, don't take up precious floor space

(Image credit: Ikea)

Balconies are the perfect place for outdoor pendant lights. 'There are so many places to hang the lights from, and you can create impact quickly, as it is a smaller space to decorate,' says Thalia Shaw.

Use any covered parts of your balcony for pendant lights and hang more than one to create a real statement. These designs shown above are simple but certainly effective, and complement a laid-back scheme beautifully.

21. Set the scene with string lights

string lanterns on balcony by Ikea

A string of paper lanterns from Ikea suits this tropical scheme well

(Image credit: Ikea)

Aside from festoons, there are other types of string lights to choose from that will instantly boost the mood of a balcony after dark. Strings of mini paper lanterns are one of our go-tos for setting a boho-chic vibe, but they complement all sorts of other schemes, too. Light-up stars, flowers, and other pretty shapes will also add character.

For something a little more delicate, fairy lights are a popular choice for those looking to add a cozy ambiance to their space. 'Being incredibly versatile, the placement of these lights can be adapted to suit the shape and size of your balcony,' Marlena Kaminska explains. Why not try wrapping them around any railings, fences, or the trunks of potted trees?

Emily Kelsey also suggests creating the ultimate backdrop by lighting up your balcony area with warm white curtain lights. 'Hang along the walls on either side of your balcony and plug in, selecting the timer function for effortless illumination each evening,' she says.

How should you choose outdoor balcony lights? 

When choosing outdoor lights for the balcony, it's important to consider their practicality in all weathers, as well as their overall look.

Marlena Kaminska encourages choosing products with sufficient IP protection to shield against any moisture or dirt. 'The higher the IP rating, the more water and dirt-proof it becomes (most outdoor lights should have a minimum IP44 rating). Take this number into consideration depending on how exposed your balcony is.' 

If you want a brighter light, perhaps for security, Julian Page, Head of Design at BHS, says you can opt for powerful, PIR flood lights, which use sensors to detect motion, automatically triggering the light. 

'You can also consider "dusk ‘til dawn" lights, which conveniently provide light without pressing a button by using photocell sensors that detect natural light levels and switch on accordingly,' he adds. 

Flora Baker
Freelance Writer

Freelance writer and author Flora Baker is a keen amateur gardener and houseplant enthusiast. Her small garden in South London is a constant work in progress as she gets to grips with snail prevention, DIY trellises and what to plant in shady spots overrun with ivy.