Trade Show Display LightingJanuary 17, 2017 – Trade show trends come and go, depending on public tastes as well as whatever trends happen to be “the in thing” at the moment. However, there’s one trend that’s been vital to public exhibition appearances for centuries and will never go away:


Lighting is one of the most critical of all aspects of successful booth design. This goes well beyond the simple question of “is my booth bright enough for people to see it?” Lighting sets the mood within an exhibition, highlights areas that you want to draw attention to, and helps turn it into an attractive space people want to visit. Lighting is what can take a meh display and make it into a wow! display.

So, let’s talk a bit about lighting styles and how it can enhance your own trade show display.

Lighting Considerations When Creating an Exhibition Display

Direct vs Indirect Lighting

Trade Show Display LightingThis is one of the most basic decisions to make: should the lighting be direct or indirect? Direct lighting means the light sources are open, exposed, and visible, and will generally be casting hard shadows. Indirect lighting is diffuse and unfocused, without many visible sources and casting few shadows.

When in doubt, indirect is probably the better option for trade show displays in general – it’s harder to mess up. By having indirect light sources hidden in places such as behind displays –backlighting– or unfocused florescent lights in the ceiling or floor, you can easily create a neutrally-lit space which is bright without being distracting.

That said, don’t underestimate the power of direct lighting and shadows when used properly.  Direct spotlights are excellent for drawing the eye towards specific areas. Hard shadows are also good for creating a moodier or “noir” feel, which can be appropriate for some products and brand images.

Colored Lighting

Don’t think your trade show display must just use standard white/florescent light either! Smart use of colored light sources is an easy way to make a display that immediately grabs people’s attention. Neon colors are particularly effective, as we showed with our award-winning cityscape design last year.  [NOTE: Link to end-of-year wrap-up blog when it posts.]

Colors are great for setting mood, because they have mild psychological effects on people. There’s an entire science of color psychology, and learning a bit about it can help you subtly shift the attitudes of people who visit your booth.

Just be careful not to overdo it with colored lights, you don’t want your booth to end up looking like a nightclub. Have enough regular lights mixed in that visitors can have relief from the colors, especially in areas where they may be interacting with staff.

Types of Lights

While not a fully inclusive list, here are some of the most popular types of lights utilized in trade show displays and what they can accomplish:

Finally, when designing lighting schemes for your trade show booth, there’s one important caveat: always read the exhibitor’s manual. There may be restrictions on types of light, brightness, or overall power draw you will need to adhere to.

Best Displays & Graphics Can Provide Great Lighting Solutions

From single pop-up displays to full booths constructed from our T3 Blueprint system, at Best Displays & Graphics, we can work with you to find the perfect lighting setup to match your needs and the mood you want to set.

Contact us today to consult with our expert designers!