The Complete Festoon Lighting Buying Guide

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Festoon lights are all the rage right now when it comes to indoor and outdoor lighting. You can see them hanging loosely in people’s backyards and patios, adorning cute little porches, setting the mood in pubs and cafes, bathing indoor spaces with their warm light and enhancing every setting or event. Functional and pretty at the same time, there’s nothing like some bright and lively festoon lights to create the ambience you want and add a little sparkle to your life. 

Truth be told, festoon lights have been around for quite some time, but they’ve made a huge comeback over the past few years and it seems like they’re here to stay. Instagram and Pinterest feeds are simply brimming with amazing festoon lights pictures to prove our point. If you think that festoon lights could be a great solution for your space, our guide will take you through all the festoon lighting basics to ensure a smoother decision-making process and help you make the right purchase. 

What is festoon lighting? 

Before we get lost in styles, lengths, installing tips and other lighting details, let’s begin with a short introduction and explain what festoon lights are. Festoon lights, commonly known as party lights or café lights, are those well-known big bulb garland lights that come in a variety of shapes, styles and colours and are used to light up and decorate both indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Traditionally, they were made out of glass and were either warm white or multi-coloured, but right now you can find a wide range of options on the market, in every shade and design you can possibly imagine. The story of festoon lights starts in the States, where they first became widely available and were extremely popular at fairgrounds and festivals. Over the years, festoon lighting took off in other countries as well and now they’re virtually everywhere. 

However, modern festoon lights have come a long way since their fairground days. Now they’re usually made of energy efficient LED’s and translucent plastic cases, designed to last, while preserving their original beauty and charm. 

Why are festoon lights so popular?  

Why should you choose to light up your space with festoon lights out of all the lighting options out there you might wonder? We believe there are plenty of reasons for it. 

  • Aesthetics – Let’s start with the most obvious of them all – aesthetics. Whether you want to enhance the look of your commercial space or increase your home appeal, festoon lights provide the perfect solution. Pretty and versatile, the magic of festoon light is undeniable. 
  • Maintenance – Moving on to more practical aspects, if you choose festoon lights for your outdoor or indoor space, it will save you a lot of hassle as they require little maintenance. Most festoon lights are sturdy and will last for years with just some basic TLC to keep them going.  
  • Safety – Festoon lights aren’t just durable and reliable, they’re also a very safe lighting option. You can even hang festoon lights yourself as they’re easy to install and most installations don’t require the help of an electrician. For commercial grade festoon lighting, you should still call in a professional to get the job done. 
  • Style – Last but not least, festoon lights are highly-customizable, so no matter what project you have in mind or what look you want to create, there’s a festoon lighting solution that will suit your needs. 

Festoon lighting options 

As mentioned previously, festoon lights come in many forms, suitable for all types of spaces and projects. It’s important to know their different characteristics in order to choose the lighting solution that works best for your situation. 

Styles 

When it comes to festoon lighting styles, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, but based on the cord type, they can be divided into two categories:

  • Flush festoon lights – as the name suggests, the lamp holders are positioned directly on the cable, without hanging. Since the lightbulbs are placed close to the string, these installations are easy to handle and decorate with. They look great wrapped around trees, or you can use them to add a cheerful line of light to a signage, a roof, a fence or any indoor space. 
  • Hanging festoon lights – in this case, the light bulbs are attached to an extra length of cable that hangs from the main cord. This creates a whimsical and fairy-tale like effect, making them ideal for draping outdoor spaces. 

Light bulbs

Once you’ve decided on the preferred festoon lighting style, it’s time to pick the light bulbs. Here, you’ll be faced with two options: LED or incandescent light bulbs. 

We’re all familiar with the classic Edison light bulbs that produce light by heating a metal wire filament placed in a translucent glass bulb. They have that old style look, giving off a warm glow and creating a nostalgic and romantic vibe. The downside is they’re not very energy efficient and they don’t last long.

On the other hand, LEDs, which are not technically bulbs, are little light emitting diodes wrapped in plastic. You can consider them the modern version of the traditional light bulb, with the ability to provide the same brightness, but with higher energy-efficiency and a much longer lifespan. 

Shapes 

It’s not just the type of bulb you have to take into consideration, but also the shape of the bulb. These are the most popular shapes for festoon light bulbs: 

  • Teardrop – narrow at the base and wider at the top to create a teardrop shape, these light bulbs are a big hit at the moment.  
  • Round – a design that never gets old, recalling the classical round bulbs created by Thomas Edison back in the day.
  • Small round – pretty and minimalist, small round light bulbs are great for a clean and fresh look. 

Voltage 

As you can imagine, not all festoon lights are created equal. When it comes to voltage, you’ll typically find two types of festoon lights on the market: 

  • Standard voltage – standards voltage festoon lights are widely available and the installation process is simple and straightforward. They can be easily plugged into any wall socket, so you can do the job yourself without the help of an electrician. You can quickly put them up for an event and then store them away without much hassle. 
  • Low voltage – for commercial installations and large venues, low voltage festoon lights are the best option. These commercial grade fittings are built with safety and durability in mind, being extremely sturdy and able to withstand extreme weather conditions. If you have a big project in mind involving permanent light fittings, low voltage festoon lights are the way to go. 

The best ways to use festoon lights 

What can you do with festoon lights, you ask? But the better question is what can’t you do with festoon lights? When you want to use festoon lights as a lighting solution for a commercial or residential space, the options are virtually endless. We’ll give you a few relevant examples of where and when you can bring festoon lights into the picture. 

Settings 

Festoon lights can be placed in any type of environment, outside or inside to create a magical effect, instantly adding sparkle and style to your setting. All you have to do is use your imagination and let your creativity take over. 

  • Backyards and patios – festoon lights can effortlessly transform a backyard or patio into a charming outdoor area and create a dreamy ambience. Hang a single string for a minimalistic design, wrap them around trees to create an enchanted forest vibe, light up the sky with a festoon light ceiling or do whatever your imagination tells you to do. 
  • Indoors – got a room that needs a bit of TLC? Festoon lights can breathe life into every corner of your house. If you find the atmosphere inside your home a bit dull and boring, a simple string of festoon lights is enough to completely change the atmosphere and brighten up your space. 
  • Commercial settings – whether you want to illuminate and enhance the design of a small store, café, restaurant, warehouse or any other type of commercial setting, installing festoon lights can be the answer. Commercial grade festoon lights are available in a variety of lengths, ranging from 10 to 100 metres, so they’re ideal for spaces big and small. 

Events 

Ready to create mood and atmosphere at your next event? Then let’s bring on the festoon lights. Any of the occasions listed below can shine brighter with the right festoon lights.

  • Weddings – whether it’s a small intimate wedding or a grand event that will be the talk of the town, festoon lighting can help you bring your vision to life and create the atmosphere you’ve been dreaming of for your big day. 
  • Parties – backyard parties are the perfect excuse to let your creativity flow free and integrate festoon lighting into your party design. From small get-togethers to large family reunions or birthday parties, there’s nothing like some warm and lively festoon lights to lift the spirits and turn any space into the perfect party venue. 
  • Festivals – over the years, festoon lights have become a staple for festivals and fairgrounds, so we can’t imagine a better backdrop for these kinds of events. Can you even call it a festival if you don’t have the soft charm of festoon lights brightening up the atmosphere? 
  • Events – festoon lights are suitable for all types of events, including corporate functions, trade shows, team-buildings, product launches and so on. Their versatility allows you to create the ideal atmosphere for every event you have in mind. 
Permanent festoon lighting purchase in Sydney

A quick guide on hanging festoon lights 

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and start hanging some festoon lights. But not before we go through a quick guide on how to hang festoon lights the right way. Follow these four steps and you can’t go wrong. 

  • Have a plan – don’t rush to buy the fist festoon lights you come across. First you have to plan your project, if you don’t want to regret your purchase. Assess the setting carefully, measure your space and hanging distance, and then you can decide on the type of installation you need. 
  • Install lamp holders – avoid rookie mistakes and make sure your lamp holders are installed facing downwards, not upwards, if you want to make the most of the warm and bright light of your festoon lights. 
  • Use cable clips and wires – the best way to support the weight of the string lights is to use hooks and guide wires. That can provide extra strength and ensure there will be less sagging over time.  
  • Choose a layout – on to the fun part: creating a layout that will complement your space. This step has no rules, so feel free to let your imagination run wild. 

Things to consider before choosing festoon lights 

If you want to make a smart purchase, stay safe and ensure a smooth installation process, here are some aspects you need to consider. 

  • The size of your space – consider the length, width and height of the area you want to cover. Make sure your measurements are correct, so you don’t buy a string that is too short or too long for your setting. 
  • IP rating – the Ingress Protection (IP) rating indicates the degree of protection that lights have against solids or liquids. A higher IP rating shows a higher protection level. For a short one-time event or for indoor use, an IP of 20 or 23 is usually enough. For long-term installations though, IP44 fittings are recommended. 
  • Voltage – choose the suitable voltage, depending on the purpose and the extent of your project. If you’re not sure what kind of installation will suit you best, seek guidance from a qualified electrician. That will ensure safety and give you peace of mind. 
  • The suitable style and layout – don’t forget about style and layout when searching for the perfect lights. There are plenty of styles to choose from and a wide variety of designs you can create with festoon lights, so it won’t be difficult to find inspiration.   

Contact Festoon Lighting Sydney for a free consultation about your lighting needs or check out our festoon lighting store to shop lights