10 Creative Outdoor Event Ideas

people laughing around a table

Next time you’re hosting an event, be sure to invite Mother Nature to join in on the occasion. Although often left out of traditional event planning, an outdoor event venue can be a breath of fresh air for everyone on your guest list. Consider some of your options: Saturday morning brunch? Sunday afternoon BBQ? Friday night under the stars? Any of these would offer a welcome variation to the typical indoor events most people get invited to attend.

Indeed, outdoor events are full of potential for creativity, spontaneity, and lots of fun. Even if your event is based around a serious topic, bringing the group outside can lighten up the tension and change the mood of your guests.

Are you a little intimidated by the planning that goes into an outdoor event? The weather can play a last-minute trick on you, and serving food outdoors has certain challenges, but with a little encouragement and some sage advice, you can definitely pull this off, especially if you choose the right venue.

The main idea is to keep thinking outside the box, enjoy yourself while you’re planning, and choose the perfect location that has all the amenities you need to create the event of the year. Check out the following creative outdoor event ideas, and then get out your pen and paper and brainstorm your very own outdoor get-together.

1. Get Festive with a Dazzling Light Display

Light displays are typically reserved for the Christmas holidays and the Fourth of July. But why should those be the only days you can enjoy the sparkle and shine of thousands of lights? Choose a venue with a beautiful outdoor space, then light up your evening event with twinkling displays that make everyone ooh and ahh as soon as they enter the area. 

Match your light display to a theme, such as gold and silver lights for an anniversary or wedding party, flashy multi-colored disco lights for a dance party, or green and blue lights to give the illusion of being underwater or in a forest. Your event is outdoors, so why not add some candlelight to the display? Some venues may even allow a small bonfire or sparklers. 

Lights add ambiance, movement, and mood to any event, and there are many ways you can integrate them into your decor. Hang a network of warmly glowing fairy lights above the tables, use real or battery-operated candles by the dozens, add dramatic flair with stage lights, or set up tiki torches around the boundaries.

2. Bring Live Music into the Mix

The outdoors is the perfect place for live music. Host an event that includes a live concert from a local musician or band, or put a small orchestra in one area for soothing and interesting background music. 

The music can be the inspiration for your theme (Jazzed-Up Night Out or Do the Blues Fundraiser, for example), or it can be a fun extra to give your guests a variety of things to listen to and talk about. Remember to use outdoor speakers and to run a test of all your sound equipment beforehand, or choose a venue that offers AV setup. 

3. Outdoor Photo Booths Get Everyone Smiling

Guests love photo booths! In fact, according to Global Market Insights, the current market for event photo booths was valued at USD 400 million back in 2020, and as time goes on, it’s set to continue to grow rapidly – at 16% CAGR from now until 2027. Without question, photo booths are in demand, and it’s a popular event that offers them as a guest activity. 

To make the most of this one, choose a themed booth to match your event and provide guests with an array of photo props to wear or hold. Photo booth vendors do a great job of setting up the booth, taking pictures, getting people to pose, printing out the pictures, and keeping the booth going throughout the event. 

Afterward, your guests get to keep the digital and/or print images as a memorable keepsake of the special occasion. You can even use these images to advertise next year’s event. If you are holding a business event and have your company name in the photo booth background, you now have free advertising that many people will look at as the photos get shared.

If you choose a DIY photo booth, think of it more in terms of a “photo corner” or “photo opportunity.” Hang large, empty picture frames from tree branches for guests to pose behind. Create a beautiful bench and potted plant scene. Put up a small stage with a rustic door in the background. Decorate the stage and door according to the season or event; for example, an autumn wreath and pumpkins for a fall theme.

Related: Guide to All the Vendors You Need for Your Austin Wedding

4. BBQ and a Corporate Meeting? Sure, Why Not?

Rules tend to be lax when you are outdoors, so why not break a few event rules and put together an unconventional event? Instead of a stuffy, indoor corporate meeting catered by the same caterers you had the past five years, spice things up by setting up your corporate meeting outdoors and having a grill-out. 

Provide burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, kebabs, corn on the cob, and a side of coleslaw and potato chips, served up with a cooler of water bottles and sodas, and you’ve got yourself a memorable and fun event that your employees will be talking about all year long!

Other unconventional pairings would work just as well, whether for business or personal events. Some ideas to explore include: 

  • A Food Truck Wedding Reception
  • A Bagel Brunch Graduation Party
  • A Picnic Fundraiser
  • A Tea Party Birthday Bash

Let your imagination fly, and come up with an event that is sure to get everyone curious. Where is the perfect place to hold your outdoor event? Choose a venue with a vibrant, fun atmosphere that puts your ideas at the center and has all the amenities necessary for a relaxing, good time.

5. Do Some Gardening

Your event is already outdoors, so extend the nature theme by setting up a gardening table. Give every guest a biodegradable pot and some dirt, and let them poke a seed or a small plant into it. Plants are an extra-special keepsake from your event, and they let your guests do something that is good for the environment. 

If you’re really into the gardening idea, host an event that includes a gardening lesson and a display of prized potted plants. This event could be decorated with wheelbarrows, rakes, and shovels. Ask guests to show up with a pot or planter, so they can fill it with dirt and one of the plants you provide.

6. Host an Outdoor Art Festival

Celebrate art in a special way. Art festivals can be booths that display art, or they can be events that include the creation of art as one of their main activities. When you’re deciding what art to display, think of art in a broad sense. It’s more than paintings and drawings. You could display glass ornaments, beautifully-crafted wind chimes, quilts, wood carvings, or garden stone mosaics. A posh, luxurious outdoor/indoor venue would be perfect for an art-themed event.

Let the guests join in on the inventive spirit by providing them with a few art supplies at their table. Give them a canvas with some simple watercolor brushes and palettes, or provide adult coloring pages and colored pencils. The point here is to pair nature with art and create an interactive atmosphere of creativity.

Related: How to Choose What Size Venue Rental You Need

7. Put on a Walk-Thru Parade Experience

Parades are pretty amazing, but they are difficult to execute. You have to have special permissions to be on certain roads, and there are a ton of other details to sort out beforehand. Instead of moving the parade along a route, host an event that features a walk-thru parade. The parade displays remain stationary, and your guests travel along the route, looking at each part of it as they go. 

This type of parade is great if you have lots of volunteers who want to set up something unique and different. In true parade style, your displays could include a small band, baton twirlers, a few animals (leashed or caged, of course), colorful booths, a flower cart, and maybe even a juggling clown. 

Have guests vote for their favorite display, and then give a prize to the winner at the end of the event. Large events require a full-service venue with plenty of outdoor and indoor space to accommodate the different stations. Choose a venue with catering, so you can concentrate on your other tasks.

8. Set Someone Up with a Murder Mystery Party

Murder mystery dinner parties are always interesting, but they are bound to be even more intriguing when they take place in a dreamy and unusual outdoor setting. You can buy murder mystery party kits, which provide all the clues and instructions for setting up the game. Games that involve every guest are great for getting everyone to open up and interact with each other, which makes your party much more interesting. Plus, no one will want to leave early before the murderer is found out!

9. Give an Old-Fashioned Pie and Ice-Cream Social

Simplify your outdoor event by creating a vibe that is reminiscent of old-time church gatherings or small-town pie socials. Set up a few big tables, place slices of pie on paper plates, and then appoint someone to scoop the ice cream. Your guests can seat themselves around long tables or picnic benches. This is a surefire way to get people mingling! Extend the old-fashioned theme by setting up a few simple lawn games, such as croquet, corn hole, and bocce ball. Decorate with streamers, balloons, and whatever else makes you think of simpler times.

10. Gather Your Friends for a Wine and Whiskey Tasting Event

Just because your event is outdoors doesn’t mean you won’t bring in all the sophistication. A venue with beautiful outdoor surroundings and a kitchen prep area can create a perfect atmosphere for a wine and whiskey tasting event. Guests can sample small portions of various beverages. This gives everyone something to discuss as they meet new people. They could vote on their favorites, too. Set up several charcuterie boards full of cold meats, cheeses, raw vegetables, and fruits to go along with your tasting.

Choose the Perfect Venue for an Unforgettable Outdoor Event 

Whether you’re hosting a personal event or a business event, make sure you choose an outdoor venue that provides everything you need, including bathroom facilities, tables and chairs, stages, DJs, sound equipment, kitchen prep area or catering, and more. Vuka has two incredible event venues in the Austin, Texas area, and we offer turnkey services to make your party-planning easy. Let us make your outdoor event special and unique for memories that will last a lifetime. Get started now!