Adding great lighting is one of the best ways to make a big impact on any outdoor space. Fairy lights and portable lanterns are great for adding ambiance, but if you want to illuminate an area and add immediate wow factor, festoon lights are a great choice.

String them along fences and hedges or suspend them above patios, pergolas and al fresco dining areas. Opt for larger vintage-style bulbs and you could even cluster them in trees and arbours for cosy character.

What are festoon lights?

While fairy lights have clusters of little LEDs, festoon lights are full bulbs on a cable. They come in a range of different designs, from vintage-style Edison bulbs to ones with a more modern frosted look. Usually, they’re designed to be used outside, so they’re often waterproof too.

Our favourite festoon lights

Lights4fun Pro Connect Festoon Lights

Mains powered

Lights4fun Pro Connect Festoon Lights against a white wall © Lights4fun Ltd

Lights4Fun has a huge selection of indoor and outdoor lighting, so it’s one of our go-to brands for garden products. Lots of its festoon lights come in a choice of lengths and bulb colours, so it’s worth having a browse if you’ve got a particular look in mind.

We love these frosted warm white festoon lights. They come on a smart black cable, but you can switch to a white one and choose cool white or multicoloured bulbs. Then, select your cable length: 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25m.

These are mains-powered festoon lights, so you’ll need an outdoor socket or a nearby window to plug them in. Once you’ve invested in this set, you can even add others from Lights4Fun’s Pro Series, and use up to 2,000 LEDs from a single plug.

Lights4fun Clear Drop Bulb Festoon Lights

Solar powered

Lights4fun Clear Drop Bulb Festoon Lights against a white wall © Lights4fun Ltd

Another great choice from Lights4Fun is this set of solar-powered bulbs. Thanks to their clear glass and warm white LED filaments, they have a charming vintage look.

The makers have also set these lights apart from others on the market by hanging each bulb from an extended black cable. The main wire is 3m long and includes 20 bulbs in total.

Plus, these festoon lights are solar powered, so they’re a great eco-friendly option and you won’t have to worry about plugging them in or changing batteries.

Solar Festoon Lights

Solar or mains powered

Solar Festoon Lights Linear Smoked in a garden
Garden Trading, Festoon Linear Lights Smoked, £75

These festoon lights quickly caught our attention with their pretty smoke-coloured glass and ribbed texture. Each bulb has five warm white LEDs inside and a small loop to attach it to hooks on fences, poles and trees.

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Another useful feature is the in-built timer, which will turn on the lights for six hours when they’re fully charged.

You can choose between the solar and the mains-powered version, but you’ll need to make sure the plug is out of the rain if you’re using a socket.

Scalloped Saucer Festoon Lights

Mains powered

Discovery Lighting Scalloped Saucer Festoon Lights against a white wall
Castlegate Lights

Sets of festoon lights can be fairly similar, but if you’re after something a little different, try this one. It comes with pretty scalloped shades above each bulb, which give them a quirky, vintage look. They’re suspended on a black cable and turn on and off automatically with a handy timer.

This set comes with six light bulbs, but you can buy more and connect up to 10 sets through one plug socket.

Outdoor Bulb Lights

Mains powered

Sarah Raven Festoon Lights in a tree
© Jonathan Buckley

Sarah Raven is another great place to browse outdoor lights. We chose this set for its unusual teardrop-shaped bulbs. Each one has a warm white LED inside to create a cosy glow.

You get 10 bulbs in a pack, and you can add two more sets to create a string of 30 bulbs.

White Festoon Lights

Mains powered

Dunelm White Festoon Lights in a garden courtyard
Dunelm, White Solar Festoon Lights 20 Bulbs, £30

In more modern or courtyard gardens, these white festoon lights could be the perfect choice. They’re filled with warm white LEDs to create the look of clustered fairy lights, and each bulb has a hanging loop, which gives you more options when it comes to stringing them up.

Each set includes 20 little bulbs and stretches 5.8m in total, so it’s ideal for small areas.

Festoon Globe Lights

Mains powered

Festoon lights hanging from cobaea avenue in a garden
© Jonathan Buckley

The big, globe-shaped bulbs on these festoon lights immediately set them apart from others on the market.

With their eye-catching design and amber-coloured filaments inside, they’d make a lovely addition to al fresco dining areas or cosy corners with outdoor seating. Thanks to their unusual shape, they’re perfect for anyone creating a bohemian or vintage-inspired look in their garden.

This 20m set includes 10 separate bulbs, and you have the option to connect more to create a bigger cluster of lights.

Three Cascading Drop Festoon Lights

Mains powered

Three Cascading Drop Festoon Lights in a dark garden
Three Cascading Drop Festoon Lights, £50,

For an unusual take on festoon lights, try this cascading set from Cox & Cox. Each ‘drop’ has three bulbs made from shatterproof plastic, which hang at different lengths. The first cascade is just 28cm long, while the second and third are 48cm and 68cm respectively.

According to the makers, you should plug these festoon lights into an indoor socket for safety, so you may need an extension lead to feed through the nearest window.

Cox & Cox Vintage Style String Lights

Solar powered

Cox & Cox Vintage Style String Lights in a tree
Solar Vintage Style Bulb String Lights, £35,

Most festoon lights feature matching bulbs, but this set includes a range of shapes and sizes for an eclectic look. They’re all combined with amber LEDs, which give them a vintage feel to add character in outdoor areas.

Cox & Cox recommends clustering them in trees to create an effortless, carefree look - perfect for dreamy summer garden parties and outdoor weddings.

They come with an in-built timer to turn on for six hours every day.

Find more pretty outdoor lighting ideas in our guides to the best wall lights, solar lights and portable lamps.


Alice TufferyDigital Writer

Drawing on a love of gardening and countryside walks, Alice works across Countryfile and Gardens Illustrated magazines to find and review the very best products for life in the great outdoors.