21 winter patio ideas for cosy entertainment

As the calendar pages turn and that winter chill starts to become more noticeable, many of us may be tempted to retreat indoors, but we’ve got some winter patio ideas that will help you extend the enjoyment of your space.

Just because the leaves start to fall, it doesn’t mean the end of enjoying your patio and the investment you’ve poured into its creation. You’ve spent time and money carefully selecting furniture, choosing the right patio slabs, caring for your garden, and generally making that space perfect for entertaining – you deserve to enjoy that all year round.

By embracing these winter patio ideas, you not only extend the practical value of your investment but also get to enjoy some fantastic, cosy experiences that only the winter season can offer.

Let’s delve into what you can do to make the most of your patio investment all year round, looking at each idea by category.

canopy pergolas shade closed night

Staying warm

No one wants to go outside when it’s cold, so the main theme of winter patio ideas is providing a source of warmth. Here are a few ways to keep your guests warm…

Make a bonfire

From as far back as human history began, we have always loved gathering around the warmth of a fire, telling stories and building a sense of community as the dark nights draw in. Now, you may already be in the habit of attending Guy Fawkes Night celebrations here in the UK, but you can always host your own bonfire party at home, providing you have adequate safety measures in place.

Fire pit tables

In the UK, the majority of fire pit tables tend to be small coffee tables with a glass fire pit in the centre. This allows for room around the edge to put your glasses and snacks, while keeping cosy. They tend to be gas powered and are made especially for outdoor use, so they won’t harm your patio.

Fire pit

Fire pits are easy to maintain, generally built to withstand the elements, and can be brought out when you need them. However, the area under a traditional fire fit does get very hot; for example, when using the pit on grass, you may notice the grass becomes singed. It’s generally not a good idea to place the fire pit directly onto your lovely patio stones.

TIP: If you have a covered patio, such as a canopy pergola, please note that generally burning wood tends to produce thick, toxic smoke and if there’s not enough air flow, it can build up quickly and deplete the space of oxygen. Always ensure a wood burning fire pit is in a well-ventilated area. If you have a canopy pergola, you can fully retract the shade to allow for more ventilation.

Heat lamps

In the UK, the majority of fire pit tables tend to be small coffee tables with a glass fire pit in the centre. This allows for room around the edge to put your glasses and snacks, while keeping cosy. They tend to be gas powered and are made especially for outdoor use, so they won’t harm your patio.

Blankets, pillows and rugs, oh my!

If everyone is facing the heat source, it might be that their backs are exposed, so supplying loads of snuggly blankets and pillows will help everyone keep warm. You can also warm things up under foot with a weather-resistant outdoor rug. You’ll find these in most garden shops, and many supermarkets.

Lighting your patio

Lighting plays a crucial role in creating ambiance and showcasing the beauty of your outdoor space. Here are some enchanting winter patio ideas for lighting your space

Winter patio ideas for lighting. String lights.

String lights

If everyone is facing the heat source, it might be that their backs are exposed, so supplying loads of snuggly blankets and pillows will help everyone keep warm. You can also warm things up under foot with a weather-resistant outdoor rug. You’ll find these in most garden shops, and many supermarkets.

Drape fairy lights along the edges of your patio roof or weave them through nearby trees and shrubs. You can opt for warm white or soft amber bulbs to create a warming glow that turns your patio into a magical winter wonderland.

Lanterns and candles

Lanterns with flickering candles are a timeless winter favourite. Arrange lanterns of varying sizes on your patio’s surfaces (just remember to add a heat-proof coaster underneath if the candle has burned down quite a bit) or hang them from hooks. The gentle flicker of candlelight adds a touch of romance and a soft, inviting glow.

LED lights or flameless candles

If you have small children or perhaps a pet with an over-enthusiastic tail, then it might be safer to look for LED candles and flameless lanterns. They mimic the warm, flickering glow of real flames without the worry of wind or fire hazards, making them perfect for winter nights.

Get a light curtain

If your patio space is next to a plain wall, you could hang a curtain of string lights or icicle lights along the perimeter. The cascading light effect adds depth and dimension while creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere.

Protection from wind and rain

How much does a pergola cost to buy? Image of a pergola with retractable shade against a house.

Here are some great ideas for sheltering your patio from the wind and rain, allowing you to relish the beauty of winter without feeling its bite.

Hang outdoor curtains or screens

Sometimes it gets a bit blowy here in the UK, and we are often asked about side screens for pergolas. Planning where your pergola or garden sail will go will help you to avoid drafty areas and create a windbreak.

Bamboo screens

Create a cosy nook with bamboo or reed screens and get some privacy. These natural materials not only offer protection but also provide a sense of rustic charm.

Cover your outdoor area

Some people use awnings, but these can be a little on the flimsy side if they are not well made, so we would recommend using a canopy pergola, which can be fully retracted or pulled across for complete cover. Having a weather-resistant pergola canopy is also a must for keeping heat in and protecting your guests from any rain that might try to dampen spirits.

See our retractable pergola canopies and transform your outdoor space – whatever the weather!

Winter patio ideas for entertaining guests

The colder months offer a chance to create unique outdoor entertainment experiences. Whether you’re dreaming of intimate gatherings with loved ones or seeking solo moments of relaxation, your patio has you covered. Here are a few winter patio ideas for entertaining.

Tropical hot tub party

Picture this: a bubbling hot tub set against a backdrop of twinkling fairy lights, lush tropical plants (they don’t need to be real), and some tiki torches providing a warm glow. Invite your friends to don their favourite swimsuits and indulge in some tropical-inspired cocktails in a hot tub. If you don’t have a hot tub, you can hire one from a local company for the weekend.

Hot tub winter patio ideas

Create a patio bar

It’s easy to set up a self-serve bar, and you can even get the slow cooker out to add some extra warmth to drinks. Make a delicious winter warmer such as mulled apple juice, and leave out some alcohol, like spiced rum, so people can choose to add some if they wish. Here’s a tip: for an extra boost to that warm, snuggly feeling, add half a red chilli pepper into the liquid while mulling. This will add a slight spice to the liquid – just make sure it’s big enough for people to see; no one wants to neck half a chilli!
If mulled apple juice isn’t your thing, you can also set up everything your guests need to make their own hot chocolate concoctions, with vodka, Irish cream or whiskey.

Have an outdoor film festival

Your patio can transform into a charming outdoor theatre, perfect for hosting cosy film nights under the stars. Imagine snuggling up in warm blankets, sipping hot chocolate, crunching popcorn, and enjoying your favourite films with friends and family.

You could invest in a high-quality portable projector and a weather-resistant screen designed for outdoor use. Set up the screen in a central location on your patio, ensuring that everyone has a clear view of the film. You could really enhance the experience with outdoor speakers that can withstand winter conditions, just ensure you don’t turn it up too high and be sure to consider your neighbours!

Food-related winter patio ideas

Embracing the winter chill doesn’t mean sacrificing the pleasure of indulging in mouthwatering al fresco meals. Imagine the aroma of sizzling hot dogs, the comfort of buttered baked potatoes, and the hearty warm feeling from a butternut squash and chilli soup. Here are some delicious winter patio ideas for serving up a feast.

Make your own pizza

For some reason, making your own pizza is just really satisfying, and it’s a fun activity to do with friends and family, especially if you have little ones. If you have an outdoor pizza oven, winter is the perfect time to put it to use. Invite guests to customise their pizzas with a variety of toppings and watch as they transform into mouthwatering masterpieces.

Tip: Some barbeques actually have a section in the grill that you can remove and replace with a pizza stone, transforming your barbeque into a pizza oven!

BBQ extravaganza

Fire up the grill and cook up a storm, with sizzling hot dogs and marinated kebabs cooked to perfection. The warmth from the barbeque will also be an added bonus.

Soup and stories

Arrange a cosy outdoor seating area with warm blankets and cushions. Set up the slow cooker to offer something like a hearty leek and potato soup or creamy butternut squash. Share soup and stories with friends and family.

Fireside baked potatoes

Wrap up fluffy baked potatoes in foil and nestle them in the glowing embers of a fire pit. You can add to the meal with a spicy chilli for added warmth. Baked potatoes on the fire pit don’t have to be limited to a Bonfire Night tradition!

Roast marshmallows or s’mores

It’s got to be done. Give guests a choice of sweet treats like marshmallows and melty chocolate additions to stack between some biscuits and they’ll be in gooey heaven.

Campfire chilli competition

Encourage friendly competition by having a chilli cookout where everyone can showcase their own twist on this winter classic.

Winter patio ideas - conclusion

We hope we have provided some excellent winter patio ideas and you’re excited about planning your next outdoor get together. From cosy seating arrangements to unique outdoor dining, the colder months offer a fantastic chance to explore experiences you might not have considered in the summer. Whether you decide to host a film night or arrange a hot tub party, we hope you have a fantastic time and make some great memories.
To cover your patio area and enjoy entertainment all year round in your garden, consider one of our custom-made wooden canopy pergolas or enhance your existing pergola with our retractable waterproof shade. These are all handmade in our workshop and the shade design is the only one of its kind in the UK!
We are a member of Made in Britain, and our timber pergolas and bespoke shades are designed and made in the UK.
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