Parasol Or Gazebo? Similarities, Differences & More

Parasol Or Gazebo? Similarities, Differences & More

As summer approaches, the choice between a parasol and a gazebo becomes more important. Both are beautiful summer structures that can completely transform the look and feel of your outdoor space. Wondering whether to choose a gazebo or parasol to elevate your outdoor experience this year? Our guide will help you choose whether a parasol or gazebo is the right choice for your garden or patio.


What is a parasol?

A parasol is a type of umbrella and a fantastic garden shade idea, designed to provide shelter from the sun. Unlike regular umbrellas, which are often used for rain protection, parasols are typically made with lighter, UV-resistant fabrics. They are used to block direct sunlight, making outdoor spaces more comfortable and enjoyable. Parasols come in different sizes and shapes and are commonly used in gardens, patios, beaches and outdoor dining areas. They can be freestanding, attached to a base or integrated into outdoor furniture like tables. Beyond their functional benefits, parasols also add an aesthetic appeal to outdoor spaces. 

Originating from the Latin "parare" (to prepare) and "sol" (sun), a variation of the parasol has been around for centuries. Traditionally handheld, modern parasols are available in a huge variety of colours, designs and materials to complement different styles and settings. Great for garden parties or lounging outside in the sun, a garden parasol is a useful furniture piece to have for those warm summer days.

Ares 3m Square Cantilever Parasol with Solar powered LED Lights in Beige - £649


What is a gazebo?

Not to be confused with a pergola, a gazebo is a freestanding, open-sided structure usually found in gardens, parks and other outdoor spaces. They feature a roof to provide shade and shelter from the elements, making it an ideal spot for relaxation, social gatherings or enjoying the surrounding scenery. Gazebos come in various shapes, such as octagonal, hexagonal or rectangular, and can be made from materials like wood, metal or vinyl.

Gazebos are often used for decoration and can be furnished with seating, outdoor lighting and accessories. Their open design allows for ventilation and views, making them a popular choice. The word "gazebo" comes from the Arabic word "qushaybah," which means a raised platform. From simple structures to ornate pavilions, gazebos offer sheltered outdoor spaces for relaxation and entertainment.


Source - Pexels


Similarities between a parasol vs. a gazebo

Parasols and gazebos serve similar purposes by providing shade and shelter from the elements. They both enhance the comfort and enjoyment of outdoor spaces. While they share common traits, they also exhibit differences in size, mobility and design. In terms of functionality, both parasols and gazebos offer shade from the sun, giving protection from harmful UV rays and excessive heat. This makes them essential additions to outdoor areas such as gardens, patios and poolside lounges. Both structures add to the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces. Parasols are available in various colours, patterns and designs. Similarly, gazebos come in different architectural styles and materials to complement your garden, patio or terraceThey can both be used for various outdoor activities, including dining, entertaining guests, relaxing or simply enjoying the scenery. Whether it's an al fresco meal under a parasol on the patio or a celebration in a gazebo in the backyard, you can enjoy either in both.

While parasols are typically lightweight and portable, allowing for easy adjustment according to the sun's position, gazebos are often more permanent structures that may be anchored to the ground or installed in a fixed location. However, some gazebos are designed to be portable or temporary, offering flexibility in placement and usage.

Riva 3.5m Round Green Parasol - £124.99


Differences between a parasol and a gazebo

While both offer shade and shelter in outdoor spaces, parasols and gazebos have some distinct differences. This might mean one is a better choice than the other for you or your garden. Parasols are more commonly used in the sun, whereas a gazebo can be used to provide shelter from wind, rain or sun.

Parasols are typically smaller and more compact than gazebos. They usually consist of a single canopy supported by a central pole, providing shade for a small area such as a table or seating arrangement. In contrast, gazebos are larger structures with a roof and open sides, offering more space for activities. Gazebos are more stationary and less portable than a parasol. Parasols are designed to be lightweight and easy to move or adjust depending on the sun. Some gazebos may be designed for temporary installation. This means that they can be dismantled and relocated. Others are permanent fixtures anchored to the ground. Both come in different styles, colours and shapes but gazebos tend to be larger and more elaborate. They’re more commonly used for events and as focal points than parasols are. 

Parasols primarily provide shade and protection from the sun, making them ideal for small gatherings or intimate settings where sun exposure needs to be minimised. They are commonly used in conjunction with garden furniture like tables, chairs or loungers. 

Voyager T1 3m x 2m Rectangular Parasol in Grey - £299.99


Which is better: a gazebo or a parasol?

When it comes to choosing between a parasol or a gazebo, everyone has different requirements and needs. It’s important to consider your preferences and outdoor space when you’re choosing between a gazebo and a parasol. 

Our table below shows an overview of parasol and gazebo features to help you decide which is right for you:











Small to medium

Medium to large


Starts from as little as £59.00

Semi-permanent gazebos can start from £2k. Temporary gazebos start at £200


Lasts a reasonable amount of time

Durable and long-lasting



Shade and shelter from all weathers. Often used for events.


The economical option

If you’re more budget-conscious, a parasol will usually be more affordable than a gazebo. They’re lighter and more temporary so are less expensive to make and buy. However as a gazebo tends to last longer than a parasol, you may decide it’s worth the investment.

Triton 3m x 2m Rectangular Aluminium Parasol in Green - £95


Maximising shade

Both options provide great shade, but a gazebo tends to be fixed in one position. That means as the sun moves (or you do) you can’t move the shade too. Parasols are often adjustable and easier to move. So while a gazebo provides more consistent coverage, if you’re solely seeking shade, a parasol might be the better option.

Eros 3.3m x 2.4m Rectangular Cantilever Parasol in Charcoal - £399


Expanding your living area outdoors

When it comes to bringing your indoors into the outdoors, a gazebo can feel more like an extra room. Because it has more structure to it, it’s more of a place you can entertain in — whether that’s hosting a dinner party, celebrating or just relaxing. However, you can still enjoy an al fresco meal on your terrace under a beautiful parasol.


Challenger T2 Oak 3m Cantilever Square Parasol in Anthracite £649.99


Evoking an outdoor luxury aesthetic

While gazebos are often the more expensive option, both a parasol and a gazebo can create a luxury aesthetic you’ll love. If it’s a high-end look that you’re going for, choose quality fabric and materials for your parasol for a touch of luxury. Gazebos look great, but they don’t quite have the same aesthetic as a gorgeous parasol, reminiscent of a beach party or a boat.

Pallas 4m x 3m Rectangular Cantilever Parasol with LED Lighting in Beige - £1,399


Choosing a contemporary look

Just like the outdoor luxury aesthetic, parasols often have a more contemporary look. And as they’re usually more affordable — and temporary — they’re easier to keep up with trends. So if you want to update the look of your outdoor space regularly, a parasol makes this easier. Choose more modern styles and fabrics to stay up to date.


Challenger T2 3m Square Cantilever Parasol in Anthracite - £499.99


Embracing a classic aesthetic

You can easily achieve the classic aesthetic with a gazebo or parasol, it just depends on the style you choose. A gazebo can look more traditional, but if you choose a wooden parasol in more conventional shades, you can still get a classic look. It’s much easier to get a parasol that works in different spaces too.


Source - Pixabay


Enduring over time

A gazebo tends to last longer than a parasol, but they’re also considerably more expensive. As they’re a more permanent structure, they’re far more durable and made out of sturdier materials. If you plan to have your garden structure for a long time, choosing a gazebo can be a good idea.


Source - Pixabay 

Making the most of limited space

If you have a smaller outdoor space then a parasol is the easier option. They take up less space, can be stored more easily and come in a range of smaller sizes. This makes them perfect for a terrace, patio or balcony area. If you’re more limited on space, a gazebo can quickly use this up.



Siesta 3m x 3m Wood Effect Cantilever Parasol With Granite Base & Cover in Charcoal - £1,599

Shielding from weather conditions

When it comes to the weather, a gazebo will give more overall protection from a range of different types of weather. A gazebo will keep you out of wind, rain and the sun, whereas a parasol is best for staying in the shade. If you want something all-weather then a gazebo is the better choice. 


Source - Pixabay


10 gazebo vs. parasol ideas

If you’re looking for inspiration for your outdoor space, here are ten ways to use a gazebo or parasol all year round.


1. Cool off in the shade during summer

Both parasols and gazebos are perfect for providing much-needed shade during the hot summer months. A large cantilever parasol can be adjusted to block the sun at different times of the day. Gazebos offer consistent shade and a cooler environment. Place some comfy seating underneath to create a relaxing oasis.


Voyager T1 3m x 2m Rectangular Parasol in Taupe £299.99


2. Construct an outdoor dining area

Transform your backyard into an outdoor dining area with the help of a parasol or gazebo. A large parasol can be positioned over a dining table to provide shade for meals. Choose a gazebo to create a more defined dining space, perfect for hosting dinner parties and family gatherings. Add a dining set that complements your style, and enjoy al fresco dining in comfort and style.

Hacienda 3m x 4m Cantilever Parasol With Granite Base & Cover in Charcoal - £1,599


3. Safeguard yourself from the sun

Protecting yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays is important, and both parasols and gazebos can help. A parasol with UV-resistant fabric means you stay safe while enjoying the outdoors. Gazebos with UV-blocking canopies provide coverage and shade for larger groups.


Eros 3.3m x 2.4m Rectangular Cantilever Parasol in Beige £549.00


4. Incorporate heaters for year-round usage

Extend the use of your outdoor space throughout the year by adding heaters to your parasol or gazebo setup. Patio heaters can be placed under a parasol to provide warmth on cooler evenings, making your outdoor area comfortable even in the autumn or early spring. For a gazebo, think about installing built-in heaters or using portable ones to create a cosy environment.


PergoSTET Wifi & Bluetooth Heater in Grey - £399


5. Effortlessly expand your living space

Both parasols and gazebos can help you extend your indoor living space outdoors. A large parasol can create an additional lounge area on your patio, perfect for relaxing or entertaining guests. A gazebo can serve as an outdoor extension of your home, complete with seating, lighting and even a fire pit. This expanded living space allows you to enjoy the outdoors without sacrificing comfort or style.


Riva 3m Round Grey Parasol - £99.99


6. Create a cosy reading nook

Transform a corner of your garden into a tranquil reading nook by placing a comfortable chair or hammock under a parasol or gazebo. Add some soft cushions, a small table for your books or e-reader and a blanket for cooler days. This setup gives you a peaceful retreat to unwind and enjoy a good book out of the sun.

Source - Pexels 


7. Host outdoor cinema nights

Set up an outdoor movie theatre by placing a projector screen under a gazebo or a large parasol. Arrange comfortable seating like bean bags or lounge chairs, and add some string lights for ambiance. With a portable projector and some cosy blankets, you can enjoy movie nights under the stars.


Source - Unsplash


8. Create a garden office

For those who work from home, consider converting a gazebo or shaded area under a parasol into an outdoor office. Equip it with a sturdy table, comfortable chair and Wi-Fi access and you're good to go, away from the glare.


Source - Unsplash


9. Make a children’s play area

Use a parasol or gazebo to create a dedicated play area for children. Set up a sandpit, playhouse or a small table for arts and crafts activities. The shade provided will protect kids from the sun while they play, and the defined space can help keep toys and activities organised.


Source - Pexels

10. Add a bar area

Designate a section under a gazebo or large parasol as an outdoor bar area for garden parties and gatherings. Stock some drinks and cocktail making accessories and you’re good to go. This setup not only adds a fun element to your events but also provides a shaded spot for guests to gather and socialise.


Image Credit - Pexels 


Parasol or gazebo: the choice is yours

It’s important when you’re considering a parasol or gazebo to think about your outdoor living space, lifestyle and aesthetic. Both fulfil similar roles but are actually very different overall. While parasols can be more affordable, flexible and contemporary, gazebos can offer more all-weather shelter and last longer overall.

You can truly tailor a gazebo or parasol to your home and outdoor space. Get creative with colour, style, shapes and accessories to create your own look. Shop parasols at Harbour Lifestyle to find your perfect outdoor style.




Is a 2m parasol big enough?

A 2-metre parasol provides enough shade for small to medium-sized outdoor areas. Measure up your space using our parasol size guide to ensure you have enough coverage.

Can you leave a parasol out in the rain?

Instead of leaving a parasol out in the rain, it's recommended to close and store parasols during rainy weather to prevent damage. Although they look like umbrellas, they’re used for a different purpose and are better suited to sunny days.


Which parasol is best in wind?

Look for parasols with sturdy construction and wind-resistant features for the best performance in windy conditions. A heavier base and thicker, more durable material can help with windy weather.