How to install festoon garden lights

This month we are looking at how to install festoon garden lights, one of the hottest outdoor trends for summer 2022.

Last month we published our guide on how to safely install new garden lighting; an in-depth look at self-installation, electrical regulation and safe DIY outdoor lighting solutions.

We touched on the current trend for festoon garden lights and that’s a subject we want to dig into a little further this month.

Festoon-style garden lights - or string, rope, café or party lights as they’re also commonly known - not only look great but they’re relatively easy to install.

Pair them with some stylish vintage-looking outdoor LED bulbs and the effect in your garden is stunning.

Here at Lazy Susan, we love festoon lights, because if they make your garden look great, then they make our outdoor furniture look great too!

What are festoon garden lights?

So, what do we mean by festoon garden lights?

Well, basically they’re a garland of traditional-style big bulb lights. A kind of more stylish all-year-round Christmas light if you will. 

However, instead of small candle or berry-style LED bulbs, festoon lights feature retro oversized glass LED bulbs predominantly with a dimmable warm white glow/ambience.

They look fantastic draped from a pergola or between trees, are great for garden parties or weddings, and are incredibly on-trend for summer 2022.

According to Festoon Lighting in Sydney, Australia:

The word festoon comes from the Latin festum which means feast. As the name implies, it initially referred to feast decorations such as wreaths and garlands. But the meaning changed with time and now the word describes the drooping curve made by the lights when they're hanging loosely.

While FestoonLighting.com define them as:

A festoon is a chain that is hung in a curve as part of a decoration. In this instance, we use lighting sockets on a string harness to do exactly that. Festoon lighting or string lights as they are sometimes referred to, differ from fairy lights by using bigger, and in many cases replaceable bulbs and that is what is so wonderful about these lights.

How to install festoon garden lights 

As we said last month in our how to safely install new garden lighting post, we've heard a few self-install horror stories when it comes to this type of lighting though. 

Homeowners assume they can just do a temporary install similar to Christmas outdoor lighting, which might be OK if you’re only hanging them for a week or so. However, most want them as a permanent fix. 

Plus, there’s often an assumption that this type of quick/simple plugin set-up can be done without concern for safety, however, the fact they’re not always installed as a permanent lighting installation, can in fact make them even more dangerous. 

For a starter, you should only ever install outdoor IP-Rated festoon lights and fittings. If you’re putting a light outside, then it must be fit for purpose. Even if it’ll sit under a garden shelter such as a pergola, if it is open to the elements, it must be designed to be weather-resistant.

Festoon lighting tends to be low-voltage, so many of the kits include the string of lighting fittings and a transformer to convert your mains power to low voltage. The transformer can be plugged into a house socket, and then run outside. The key is to make sure that is done safely and securely.

Our advice, if in any doubt, then always hire a professional electrician to correctly install for you.

How to safely hang festoon garden lights

If you are confident you can tackle a DIY install, then the most important thing to remember is that every garden is different. Whilst we can share a few tips, how-to videos, etc, how you install and hang will be unique to what you buy and your home/garden.

The obvious solution is to drape them from your house or a garden structure such as a pergola or fencing. If you have large trees or garden buildings you could suspend between. Obviously, the main criteria with where you hang are that they’re safely above head height. 

You can also install a festoon light pole such as the one pictured above from Festive Lights on amazon.co.uk to create an anchor point. 

The key is to find an option that works for your space and install the relevant support hooks correctly into whatever material you are anchoring into (e.g. brick, wood, pole, etc). 

The fixtures (metal hooks/eyes) you use must be secure and strong enough to support the weight of the festoon lights with adequate spacing. Most suppliers will specify spacing, but as a general rule, we would recommend an anchor point every 2.5m to 3.5m. 

Plus, regardless of distance, we would also advise that you install a support wire to ensure the festoon lights are supported along each suspended length of bulbs. This helps to protect the cable and adds strength, especially when the wind picks up.

If you purchase your festoon lights from a reputable lighting supplier, then most will also offer a light suspension kit with all the fixtures and support wire you’ll need. To dig into this a little further, then please watch the two videos below.

Bunnings Warehouse has this great video that shows you how to install safely:

While Fusion Lighting shows you how to permanently hang your festoon lights so they never fall down and break:

Our favourite festoon garden lights

There’s no denying that festoon lights are bang on trend for summer 2022 and they make for a great way to bring some ambient lighting to your outdoor space. Get creative and suspend them over your Lazy Susan outdoor dining table, and you'll elevate your garden party when the sun goes down. 

Festoon garden lights are available in a variety of colours and styles, but the important part is to make sure you purchase lights that are designed for outdoor use and ensure they’re installed correctly. 

There are battery-powered festoon lights available but our advice is to go for the solar or mains powered if you’re looking for a more permanent solution and make sure they have replaceable screw fit light bulbs so you can easily replace rather than remove the whole thing.

To give you a little further food for thought, these are some of the Lazy Susan team's favourite festoon lights and where you can buy them:

Cox & Cox

Cox & Cox offers some super stylish festoon-style lighting, and their Extendable Drop Festoon Lights get a big thumbs up from us. With a simple black wire and traditional bulbs, they feature dropped lights at two-interval heights to add extra visual interest. 

They specify on their website:

With a lit length of 9.5m, and 20 handsome bulbs, our Drop Festoon Lights have an amazingly simple connectable system, it is easy to light up any space with up to 100 lights from one power source, using our Drop Festoon Extension Set.

Their Starter Kit comprises of transformer and 20 warm white lights, which can be plugged into the mains. Extension Kits can be purchased and push-fit together to create a string of up to 100 lights from that one plug. The Starter Kit comes with an 8m lead making it easy to plug inside your house and safely run outside.

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Festive Lights

Festive Lights have one of the most comprehensive ranges of festoon lighting and their website is packed full of useful guides/info. Their ConnectPro range is easily connectable and features durable weatherproof rubber cables.

They describe the system on their website as follows:

These 5m festoon belts, with fixed bulbs, are connectable up to 160 sets, meaning you have the flexibility to create your own bespoke lighting display. Each 5m length has 10 fixed bulbs, spaced 50cm apart and featuring high power SMD LEDs, which are available in either white, warm white, or multi-colour. There are 7 LEDs housed within each of the frosted bulb caps, giving your display an impressive brightness.

What we love is that they come supplied with stylish LED bulbs and once securely fitted/screwed together the system has an IP65 rating. Plus, they’re designed for long-term commercial use, so you know you’re getting a professional quality system. The video below has further details of this 240V connectable lighting system:

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Lights4Fun

Lights4Fun are another with an extensive range and their Core Connect 20m Festoon Lights tick all the boxes for Lazy Susan. Featuring an improved design, their festoons are perfectly on-trend for summer 22 and have been designed specifically for low voltage home installation.

They describe them as follows:

These festoons are ideal for lighting up your home & garden and you can connect up to 75m of lights to achieve the ultimate look. Each string features 10 bulbs evenly spaced across 5m of black cable and each globe houses 4 warm white SMDs within for an ambient glow. With simple connectors on the ends of each string, it's incredibly easy to connect them together to create the perfect length. To illuminate, simply connect the Core Connect plug (sold separately) which comes with 4.5m of lead cable.

It’s super easy to connect the Core Series connectable lights, and they allow you to power up to 800 LEDs from one power source. The video below shows you how easy it is to connect them up:

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The Solar Centre

If you want to go down the solar route (easy to install and what they potentially lack in lumens they make up for in electricity cost saved) then our advice would be to look at the Edinburgh USB Solar Festoon Lights from The Solar Centre

They summarise as follows:

Our Edinburgh USB Solar Festoon Lights bring solar power to the latest filament style LED bulbs which come complete with rugged weather-resistant bulb holders and cabling that are usually reserved for commercial grade lighting.

And they go on to say:

Add festoon lighting quickly and easily to any outdoor space without the need for mains power with this stunning vintage effect 14.45m light garland.

What we love about them is that you get mains brightness from a solar-powered product but if things are a little on the cloudy side then whilst they’re designed to work using solar power alone, you can also charge via USB.

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If you have any photographs of your Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture under Festoon Lighting, then we would love to see them for our Do Some Good charity campaign. Please send them to us at [email protected] or tag @lazysusanfurniture on Facebook or Instagram.

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