Craft Show Lighting & Booth Lighting Ideas

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craft display lighting ideas

Lighting is a primary consideration when planning craft show displays and it’s one that vendors often overlook.  Many venues have low-quality overhead lighting that can make your colors look off.

Yes, high school gymnasium with the old school fluorescent lights, I’m talking about you.

Today we’ll look at craft booth lighting ideas and explore cool vs warm light and the benefits of each.  We’ll also look at electric and non-electric lighting options for both indoor and outdoor events.

While there may be nothing you can do about craft show lighting in general, there are several booth lighting ideas that can help negate the negative impacts of bad venue lighting.

When planning for your event consider the following:

Weather – this is mostly for outdoor events, but a cloudy day can make other lighting sources necessary.  To a lesser degree, it can impact natural light within buildings also. Bright, but not glaring light, has a welcoming and comforting effect on visitors, especially on cold, blustery days.

Overhead lighting.  What type of lights are in the venue? fluorescent lights provide cool, harsh light which may detract from items that are meant to appear warm in color or soft.

If you’re providing mirrors for people to see jewelry or clothing items you’ll want a nice, warm soft light around that mirror.  No one looks good in garish fluorescent light.

Dark corners and shadows.  If you’ve ever done an event where you were stuck in the middle of a hallway you are likely familiar with how dark spots and large shadows can negatively impact your display.

Craft Show Lighting With Electricity

If you use electricity you have a lot of great options for lighting.  You’ll need to ensure that you have a surge-protected power strip and a heavy-duty extension cord.  They should be labeled for both indoor and outdoor use.

When considering your lighting placement you’ll also want to keep in mind how to manage the cords and keep them out of sight.

Of course you don’t want a giant cord going through the center of a display and you definitely don’t want to be held liable if someone trips over a cord or pulls a hot lamp down onto themselves.

Track Lighting: This is better for more permanent fixtures and you’ll often see this along the tops of display walls at high end craft fairs and art shows. It’s a more expensive option, but it does provide an elegant, professional retail look.

Clip Lamps: This is an inexpensive option for most and you can find them in major retail stores, Amazon or even office supply stores.  I like the flexibility of clamp lights since they can be clipped directly to displays or on the top of my canopy.

Halogen Bulbs:  For a pure white light these are the go-to choice. They are slightly more expensive than standard bulbs, but they last longer and are extremely energy efficient.

Halogen bulbs are ideal for display lighting because they highlight and enhance color, provide bright (but not garish) light and can be used outdoors.  Many flood lights use halogen bulbs.

A couple of well-placed halogen lights with clamps will make your whole booth more vibrant.  You can use them for overall lighting, or adjust them to shine on specific items you want to highlight.

Backlit Mirrors:  If you sell anything that people might want to try on, a mirror with great lighting will pay for itself immediately.  I like the tri-fold one below.  It’s affordable and allows shoppers to see what a necklace or scarf looks like in flattering light.  The side panels are magnified to allow an even closer look.

If you sell clothing items, you may want to consider a full length option.

Craft Show Lighting Without Electricity

Ok, so you signed up for your space but electricity wasn’t available or you don’t want the hassle of bringing along power cords, lamps etc.

Fortunately, there are many options out there for battery operated and solar lights.

High-quality solar lights can be charged before the event and should last throughout the day. Battery operated lights are often not very bright, but they can still add a little pop of light to highlight an important piece.

I’ve found that the majority of battery operated lights with LED tend to be cool light.  Perhaps it’s changed since I last shopped, but I had to look harder to find warm LED’s.  What you sell will determine which will work best for you.

When choosing lights, be sure to consider where you intend to use them and which will be the most flattering to your products.

Warm Light vs Cool Light

Cool light is best when you have small items with a lot of intricate, delicate details.  This brings out those features and is even said to enhance focus and concentration, which is why you find most office spaces use cool light.

Warm light is better for an overall ambience of warmth and comfort.  It’s more flattering to the skin when looking in mirrors. If you’re selling home goods, clothing, etc. this light will help enhance that homey appeal in combination with a great display that shows items in use.

warm light vs true white vs cool light from

Twinkle lights aka fairy lights can add a nice ambience overall, but they don’t provide a lot of light for seeing details.  If you need to highlight an item or two, or want to enhance vivid colors, there are better choices.  Many strands of these are powered with watch batteries and the flat cases are easy to conceal.

Well placed mirrors or reflective surfaces also deflect and diffuse light in a space.

Touch lights are stick-on lights that are useful for shelves, and other small spaces that you want to highlight.  There are many battery operated ones available.  The downside can be that you have to remove them to change batteries.  Be sure you don’t stick them directly to a surface you can damage.

So hopefully this guide has given you some booth lighting ideas that will increase your sales and improve the overall look and feel of your booth.

Happy Selling!


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Comments 9

  • I have 4 shelves that I display our jewelry on to sell with 2 sets of these shelves 8 feet long. I was thinking of using the white led light strips to run along the front underside of each shelf. Do you think these would provide enough lighting? I wasn’t sure how the track lighting would focus down to lower shelves. Thanks for any helpful advice you can provide.

    • Hi Tonya,
      I’m not sure if it would provide enough lighting to highlight your jewelry, but it will provide ambient light and attract the eye in general which is a good thing. I’d do it, especially now that we’re getting into the holiday season. Good luck 🙂

  • lighting is always key at any show! if you can’t see it, you won’t buy it!

  • Wowza! I never thought so much detail went into setting up for a craft fair, but it makes so much sense to have the best lighting to show off intricate details in the items you’re selling. What an amazing and thorough post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Tara,
      You’re very welcome. Indeed, it’s a competitive business for sure, but the more you pay attention to details the better business tends to be. I appreciate the comment and support!

  • Loved this. I sell at craft fairs in the fall/winter. Some of your hints will come in handy.

  • Very informative! These are greats ideas!

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