Lighting for Outdoor Concert Venue

Jun 10, 2022

The Basics of Stage Lighting

Today’s concert-goers have high expectations when they attend an event. Audiences not only demand flawless sound quality, they also want a captivating stage show. To give fans a wow-worthy experience, event designers need to carefully consider every element of the stage set, including the lights.

At a live outdoor concert, lighting serves multiple purposes. Concert lighting’s most basic function is to illuminate the performers on stage. Its most important task, however, is to set the mood for the entire performance. The best light displays help create a connection between the audience and the artist’s music, providing a full-on sensory experience for fans.  

Stage lighting is a skill that’s easy to master, as long as designers understand its basic components and underlying strategies. Outdoor concert lighting has slightly different requirements compared to indoor venue lighting, but basic considerations are generally similar. 

Typical prep work for outdoor venue lights includes selecting the fixtures, planning setup and positioning, then creating a dynamic light show that transitions effortlessly with the music.     

Preparation for Outdoor Concert Lighting

Setting-up stage lights for an outdoor event varies according to production and venue size. How large or small the show is will influence the lighting design’s overall scope and scale. No matter the show’s size, almost every stage crew will agree that LED lighting is the way to go. The latest programmable LED lights give audiences the best entertainment experience. Current LED technology offers a wide range of visually appealing, customizable features that decades-old light sources can’t match.      

Successful LED concert lighting impresses audiences when it flows seamlessly with the music’s mood and tone. Changing colors, shifting shapes, and bursts of brightness are just a few of the programming techniques that can emotionally enhance a concert’s musical journey.   

As for placement, lights can be mounted high above on overhead trusses, arranged at stage level as direct spotlights, or incorporated within the set design for visual interest. A combination of all options provides greater flexibility and is preferred by most musicians. 

During the planning phase, don’t overlook this important safety consideration for all outdoor venue lights. It’s vital to remember that the lights are outside and exposed to nature’s unpredictable elements. 

Even if the stage is within an enclosed amphitheater, proper outdoor concert lighting should be rated for wet or damp usage. This is because blowing precipitation or dust could make its way to the stage and impact lighting, which creates potentially hazardous conditions for performers, crew, and nearby audience members.    

Choosing Outdoor Concert Lighting

Selecting lights for a particular outdoor event depends almost entirely on the type of performance taking place. For instance, a small-scale trio of classical musicians won’t require the same lighting setup that a large-scale rock or rap concert needs. 

Specific requirements and limitations of the outdoor venue also determine lighting guidelines. What can be accomplished in one venue, might not be possible in another. An experienced stage crew knows how to handle these situations, and can adjust the lighting setup to fit the space while still meeting the expectations of the recording artist and concert promoters.

At a live outdoor concert, creating the right mood with lighting is a key element to pleasing the crowd. Audiences react positively to lighting that changes colors and luminosity throughout the performance. Top designers know how to coordinate light color and intensity to match the energy and emotion of a wide-ranging setlist. During a single concert, fans may see every color of the light spectrum used on stage to convey the distinct feel of each song.     

10 Different Types of Event Lighting 

What are the best lights for an outdoor concert? There used to be limited options, but now the choices seem endless, especially if you go with LED lighting. Here are 10 popular types of outdoor concert lighting, ranging from the tried-and-true to the latest tech trends.

LED Uplights – Colorful columns of light create striking, atmospheric stage effects.

LED Pixel Tube Lights – Join them together and make one-of-a-kind 3-D light sculptures.

Ellipsoidal Spotlights – A highly specialized lens emits a well-directed spotlight beam.  

LED PAR Lights – Flood the stage area with bright light in almost any color you want. 

Moving “Intelligent” Lights – Available in wash, spot, and beam fixture varieties.

Kinetic LED Lights – Sleek overhead lighting designed with mechanical movement.  

Laser Lights – Programmable colors and patterns easily change to match the music.  

LED String Lights – Their soft, colorful glow is ideal for creating a cozy stage setting.

Balloon Lights – Whimsical, air-inflated fixtures can be suspended or ground supported.  

Projection Lighting / Mapping – Project images and designs onto the stage or backdrop.

Lighting Methods for Outdoor Concert Venues 

To set the tone and mood for the event, the lighting needs to be just right. Experienced stage crews follow a few well-established lighting techniques to hold the audience’s attention for the entire concert.

Highlighting different stage areas throughout the performance directs audience members’ eyes to where they should be focused. For instance, when there’s an instrumental solo, a direct spotlight should be placed on the performing musician, so everyone’s attention is directed appropriately.     

Setting the scene and controlling the mood means that outdoor concert lighting must coordinate with other stage elements as well. Along with lighting, many outdoor venues use smoke or fog for dramatic effects, confetti showers for the grand finale, and video screens to display images during the show. 

When the concert is over, make sure walkways, paths, and parking areas are well-lit, so guests can see clearly as they leave the venue, especially at night.

Are you interested in upgrading your outdoor venue’s stage lighting? Or are you a band manager looking for new concert lighting before an upcoming tour? Before hitting the stage, talk to the lighting experts at TCP. They’ll work with you to design an unforgettable outdoor light show. TCP is leading the way with innovative LED technology. Learn more about TCP’s LED lights for outdoor settings


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