Festoon lights - the best idea for party lighting

The lack of proper lighting can ruin even the best party, especially when it's held outdoors, e.g., in a garden. Fret not my friend - festoon lights are here to save the day. What are these, what makes them so great, and how to choose the right ones? That's what I'm going to show you below - come, join me for a stroll into the magical world of festoon lighting.

What are festoon lights?

Although at first this question might seem silly, due to the sheer variety of lighting options it's more than valid. The easiest way to describe them would be a type of string lights with large, often oversized, replaceable bulbs (though some can only use bulbs from just one brand/retailer). The bulbs themselves come in various shapes and sizes, but the globe-shaped ones are definitely the most common. You've probably seen them as wedding lighting (they're quite common in movies and TV series), patio decorations, or simply as outdoor lighting (again - very popular in movies). They sometimes get mistaken as fairy lights, which use far smaller bulbs.

Colourful Festoon Lights

What makes festoon lights great for outdoor parties?

Both indoor and outdoor festoon lights share traits that make them one of the best lighting options (or the best when it comes to party lighting). What are those traits? Well, I'm glad you've asked:

Versatility

As string lights, they give you practically limitless freedom. For example, you can use them to illuminate the peripheries of the party zone, string them between poles in a zigzag, wrap them around trees, or highlight certain elements such as statues, fountains etc. The only limiting factors are your imagination and the arrangement of your garden space.

If you pick up weatherproof festoon lighting, it can stay outside for the whole year (or most of it, depending on the winter weather conditions in your region) and you won't have to roll them out each time you want to throw a garden party.

Variety

Besides the aforementioned plethora of shapes and sizes, modern festoon lights come in many styles and colours. This is especially true for LED-based bulbs - they can imitate classic bulbs with elongated diodes, have many colours, or even come in RGB option.

What does RGB stand for? Besides being short for red, green, and blue, this abbreviation tells us that the given bulb can have its colour changed on the fly - all you need is a dedicated remote or a compatible mobile app. Thus, festoon garden lights can have their colour adjusted to the mood or simply go through their colours in a programmed cycle, resembling disco lights.

Safety

LED festoon lights give off minimal amounts of heat - they stay cool to the touch and can be safely used near flammable materials. So you won't have to worry about being burned, accidentally setting a fire, or bulbs popping from overheat and spaying glass all over the place. Plus, they don't contain any toxic materials (such as mercury commonly used in neons) and are almost 100% recyclable.

Colourful Festoon Lights

How to choose the best festoon lights?

When choosing bulb festoon lights, there are a few key areas you should always keep in mind:

Available space

A rather obvious, nevertheless crucial step is estimating the size of the area you want to illuminate. This will determine how long the festoon strings must be and, indirectly, how bright the lights should be.

Brightness

The brightness of your perfect festoon lights should match their purpose - if you're looking for mood/background lighting, it should be on the dimmer side, while a more general light source is better off being bright.

If you're not certain what to pick, LED festoons will come to the rescue - some of them are dimmable, which means you can control their brightness and adjust it to the occasion.

Power source

When it comes to powering festoons, there are 3 options:

  • solar-powered festoon lights
  • battery festoon lights
  • mains-connectable festoon lights

Solar festoon lights work great for some evening outdoor festivities, but can be unreliable when the weather is cloudy and are practically useless in constantly shaded areas.

Those powered by batteries work fine for occasional use, but fall flat as a long-term solution (plus the batteries may die at the most inconvenient moment).

The mains-powered lights are definitely the most reliable option, especially if you plan to use them frequently. If you pick LED ones, you would be able to use them to your heart's content without worrying about them burning a hole in your wallet - they're the cheapest to run from all the currently available lighting technologies. The only downside to mains-powered festoons is the connection process - you might need help from a professional electrician to set them up properly.

IP rating

IP (or Ingress Protection) ratings tell us how good the light is at withstanding the elements. They consist of 2 numbers - the first one stands for protection against solid objects, the second indicates water protection level. The higher the number, the better - the highest ranking would be 68.

For outdoor festoon lights, aim at IP of 44 or higher - anything less won't be able to deal with changing weather conditions. An optimal choice for British damp weather would be an IP of 65.

Festoon lights - great for both indoor and outdoor lighting

Festoon lights are one of the most versatile and varied types of lighting fixtures currently available. You can use them practically anywhere (granted, they have sufficing IP rating) and get honestly magical effects. So if you're looking for solid, practical lighting for a party space, festoon lights will be your best bet.