Christmas restaurant lighting: How to get the wow factor

Category: Lighting
Christmas restaurant lighting: How to get the wow factor

Help your diners make merry this Christmas, with fabulous, festive lighting

With office Christmas parties, festive family gatherings and girly get-togethers in full swing, the UK’s restaurants are bursting into life. But dining out in December is about so much more than turkey and mince pies.

From the perfectly-pitched background music, to the stylish décor, roaring fires and slick service, it’s an immersive experience that creates a bubble of excitement about the days ahead. And when it comes to creating that essential, celebratory atmosphere, there’s little more important than the lighting. Here, Greenlite’s Lighting Doctor gives some top tips for creating the perfect ambience this winter.

  • Never underestimate the transformative power of light. The right lighting can turn a dingy venue into a cosy space, oozing Christmassy charm. Likewise, it can make a stark, cavernous space look simply spectacular.
  • Lighting is a major influencer on our mood. Think about how you want your customers to feel. Do you want your space to have a party vibe, fizzing with festive energy, or do you want to foster a romantic, intimate ambience? Once you know, you can plan your lighting accordingly.
  • Layer your light. Using different types of illumination gives a space texture, depth and atmosphere. It also enables you to highlight architectural or decorative features, and create shadow where it’s desired.
  • Start with ambient lighting, which is your practical, base layer of illumination, ideally involving energy efficient LED pendants or down-lights. For a cosy, more exclusive restaurant atmosphere, go for warm white LEDs.
  • Consider installing automated dimmers, to give you flexibility. You can preset the system so the ambient lighting dims subtly as the winter nights draw in, setting the stage for the shimmering festive displays.
  • Next, strategically placed accent lighting, such as spotlights or LED strips, will emphasise festive features or artwork. Imagine softly illuminated period coving, or a backlit bar display, stocked with enticing bottles for those Christmas cocktails.
  • Task lighting is more functional, but oh-so-important. It sheds light on specific areas, such as the cloakroom or till.
  • Finally, once you’ve got your three main ingredients, you can add a lavish sprinkling of festive feature lighting. From sparkling suspended stars, to twinkling LED curtains and light up letters screaming out ‘joy’, it’s up to you how far you take it!
  • One final aside. When it comes to illuminating food, bear in mind the CRI, or colour rendering. Under an ambient lamp that renders colour well, food and drink will appear like it would in daylight. Under a lamp with a low CRI score, a fresh green salad will look unappealingly brown. For the best results, stick to bulbs with a CRI of 90 and above. After all, no amount of Christmas glitz will make up for steak that looks like a grey slab.


With well-thought-out lighting, a restaurant will exude Christmas cheer, bringing back happy customers year in, year out.

To find out more about what great lighting can do for your business, contact Greenlite on 0844 880 2116.

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