Lighting displays that enhance the sense of place

Lighting displays transform a space. They can help turn a drab and uninviting part of town into a vibrant retail destination or hub of the night time economy.

There’s a huge variety of installations and motifs to choose from, but not everything is ideally suited to every location. The most effective displays have to balance a number of factors.

Here are a few of the points our account managers and design consultants consider when we carry out a site visit and start putting a display together.

Where will people be observing from?

You don’t want to waste your budget on elements that won’t really be seen or have the intended impact. Displays are about how different elements interact – you have to visualise the key viewing points and, in particular, the first impression when people arrive. Maximise the wow factor.

Flows and routes

We pay particular attention to how people move through an area. Carefully positioned elements and converging lights can help guide visitors in a particular direction or to a location if that’s what you want to do.

Size and scale

In the same way that a small overdressed Christmas tree can look a bit tasteless, you have to be sensitive to scale. An element that makes a great centrepiece for a large open square clearly wouldn’t work in a shopping district with narrow lanes. 

There are many fine-tuned choices between these two extremes that affect the size, design, light intensity and heights of the elements you choose.

Unique characteristics

When we visit a site we always study the architecture and the built environment. In most cases the aim is to be sympathetic and enhance what’s already there. Traditional is the default mood for Christmas lighting – but it’s not always ideal. Sometimes a contemporary approach creates something unique that enhances the sense of place.

Architectural features

Almost always there are buildings and features that you wouldn’t want to lose in the gloom. These are part of what makes a place special. We like to work with these features rather than attempt to overshadow them.

Existing light sources 

There’s never a truly blank canvas. In any space there will be street lighting and light from other sources such as shop and office frontages. You have to carefully consider these so that the final effect isn’t harsh and overwhelming.

It’s only possible to give a quick summary here. If you’d like to find out more about the best way to use display lighting to enhance a sense of place, contact The Festive Lighting Company on 01823 667788 or

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