Up in Lights

Event Equipment’s Victoria Rice on the surge in popularity for imaginative lighting at venues.

Light shining purple and green through the trees

We have been in the event production industry for many years and regularly watch trends come and go, but lighting certainly isn’t waning in popularity.

Venues and their grounds are limitless in their potential for imaginative lighting for weddings, corporate functions and public events. Even the plainest of buildings can be lit well with dramatic effect, and both wedding couples and business event bookers are assigning a bigger budget to lighting. They are realising the value for money that lighting has over firework displays for example, which are typically over within a few minutes. Where there are expansive gardens or grounds, illuminated trails or aerial displays provide important off-season income.

We work closely with clients and design teams to create their vision and understand that they need their installations to be unique, so we work hard on making that possible. Whether that means scaling the rooftops to project specifically designed gobos on to the floor when guests arrive, beaming moving gobos up onto buildings from ground level, or even high quality video projection of campaign trailers onto internal or external walls.

Crowd walking through lit up trees at an event

LED lights are the most popular, and as they are energy efficient they aren’t as big an issue for the environment as some of the classic style lighting. LED lights have come on in leaps and bounds and as the technology is continually improving, it means that we are regularly investing in new kit every six months or so. That said, there is still a place for the traditional incandescent lamp in lighting design. The ability to generate a warm glow from the wire filaments when dimmed down low is still a favourite feature.

When we get inside a venue we can make some pretty amazing transformations. We have recently overhauled a standard office canteen into an incredible after work ‘night-club’ for a staff-party, using uplighters, and some key pieces of our LED furniture. We relish the opportunity to go into halls or even people’s homes to change the look of them beyond recognition with lighting effects. It’s immediate and effective and we see for ourselves that it is always well received.

Wedding style
For weddings, we always encourage brides to look past what they see when visiting a venue. If it fits what they need for practicality, then we can help them create the look they want. It doesn’t always mean a futuristic, high spec lighting rig; we embrace that sense of style that our clients are aiming to demonstrate on their wedding day and find that romantic uplighters and filament lamps suspended from the ceiling over the heads of guests work beautifully.

Outside, we love to light trees and walkways in the chosen wedding colours and have created personalised initials in key locations, and of course there is always room for vintage look festoon.

There is no doubt that weddings have been getting smaller in the last few years. Although we still see numbers of up to 250 several times a year, weddings have certainly changed, and there seems to be a greater emphasis on quality not quantity. The overall budget remains similar, but with fewer guests it means that the spend per head is higher. Couples can really give their family and friends a fantastic day and night; they can have fun with the details, making ideas a reality. Lighting now regularly features within this budget, and that can only be a positive thing for a couple’s valued guests.

We have the power!
Lighting and power go hand in hand. It’s simple really, the electrical supply powers the lighting. At the start of a project we look at the power that may already be available. Whether that is an existing electrical supply at a venue, or generators that the clients have of their own. When the event plans are finalised we establish what additional power is required, and bring in temporary generators where needed, using modern energy efficient generators with low emissions.

Tree lit up warm yellow from below

We understand that many of our clients prefer a ‘silent’ generator; this can be due to the proximity of guests – humans and animals! We are well briefed on working at zoos or near protected wildlife these days, so we have learned to be sensitive with noise and any disruption with installing equipment. Our practices always meet the required standards for safety.

Power distribution is key to large scale lighting events. Being involved in some major lighting extravaganzas which also feature food outlets, music, toilets and more, we are well versed in power distribution. Our generators and custom made distro boxes are tried and tested and installed by our great team of technicians. Temporary electrical installations are carried out in accordance with the current edition of BS 7909. Simply put, this British Standard puts someone that is suitably qualified in charge of overseeing the electrical system, and our technicians cover that role.

We enjoy the planning as much as the set up and execution of each job, so when we’re working on site plans for power and lights, we know we’re keeping the organisers happy!

Audience focused
There is such a wide range of clients interested in the potential of lighting. In our case we work beyond weddings and illuminated trails, covering themed corporate dinners, university events, product launches, equestrian shows, music festivals, car festivals, charity events and light festivals! We have even flipped things on their head and become the client ourselves as we are beginning to roll out more of our custom lighting show visitor attractions. It has affected our business a great deal, so much so that our summer ‘silly season’ has been extended well into September/October (we aren’t complaining by the way).

We have listened to what consumers are looking for and believe that lighting shows can be unique in their content. Looking at lighting as audience focused is fairly new, and we have seen the impact interactive lights can have. Whether a visitor manages to step on something to send a shot of light up into the trees, or to control lasers which beam out in the open, these events are more and more popular when interactive installations are included.

We predict that the new year will see further advances in technology, so more investment on our part will be inevitable. This can be said for the event industry as a whole, and so 2020 is a year to watch for some exciting innovation and some mind blowing lighting!

Tunnel of lights

About the Author

Victoria Rice

Victoria Rice is sales and marketing manager at Event Equipment.
Established in 1997, this Cheshire based family business supplies lighting and power distribution as well as staging, bars, dance floors, heaters and furniture to events of all types and sizes.

Priding itself on keeping atop of new trends it also loves the classic and traditional. Event Equipment is excited when a client has new ideas but is also able to provide guidance on what might be needed, drawing on over 20 years’ experience working with some of the country’s most beautiful and forward thinking venues. www.eventequipmentltd.co.uk

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