Festoon Lights vs. Fairy Lights

Written by Ben Forde | Posted under:

Festoon and fairy lights are two different types of lighting, each creating a unique lighting effect. 

When choosing festoon lights or fairy lights, the best choice often depends on what you want to light. 

Because here’s the thing…

In certain situations, fairy lights should never be used; we’ll get to that shortly. 

If you’re looking at festoon and fairy lights, you’re unsure which ones you want to go with. 

Suppose you want to find out if one style of lighting is better. Discover when to avoid fairy lights and how to create beautiful lighting in your outdoor area. We’ll cover that and more in this fast-paced, entertaining article. 

Now let’s take a look…

What Are Festoon Lights?

Festoon lighting is lights you string up over an outdoor area and light that area up.  

A festoon cable can be 20m long, and spaced along that cable every 900mm are 22 sockets for 22 light bulbs to go into. 

You can put light bulbs of all different shapes and sizes into those sockets. This is what makes festoon lighting so attractive, appealing, and beautiful. 

The bulbs in festoon lights are a feature of the lighting. 

Festoon 24V A60

What Are Fairy Lights?

The lights on fairy lights are significantly smaller than festoon light bulbs. 

With fairy lights, you can have a cable that’s 10m long and spaced every 5cm along that cable are tiny little lights. Over the 10 meters, there are 200 tiny little lights. That’s what fairy lights are - cables with tiny little lights along them. 

Fairy lights and festoon lights look nothing like each other. 

fairy lights

Choosing Between Festoon & Fairy Lights

A Choice Between Festoon Lights & Fairy Lights Comes Down To What You’re Lighting

This is important, because this instantly makes your choice between festoon and fairy lights easy. 

Here’s some examples…

  • If you want to light up a tree, fairy lights are a great choice. 
  • If you’ve wanted to light your outdoor entertaining area, festoon lights are the best choice. 
  • If you have a large event area and want to light it up, festoon lights are the best choice. 
  • If the outdoor area is a stylish restaurant, festoon lights are a great choice 
  • If you’ve got a big chunk of wall that looks bland, fairy lights are great for this. 
  • In most cases, unless you’re lighting trees, festoon lights are the lights to choose from if you want that jaw-dropping wow factor. 

Because here’s the thing…

If you put lights into an outdoor area, and the lights don’t suit that setting, you won’t create that beautiful lighting effect you want. 

The Advantages Of Festoon Lights Over Fairy Lights

  • You choose the beautiful light bulbs you want 
  • Festoon lights look stylish and stunning 
  • Festoon lights are much brighter than fairy lights
  • If a bulb stops working, you can replace it 
  • Your outdoor area has its unique style and character, and it’s easy for the right type of festoon lights to enhance this with beautiful lighting seamlessly 
  • You can dim festoon lights and get the perfect amount of light in your outdoor area 
  • You can light large areas quickly and easily with festoon lights 
  • If you invest in a quality festoon cable, you get 10+ years out of it 
  • In your outdoor entertaining area, you won’t need any other lights because festoon lights give you all the beautiful lighting you’ll need 

The Advantages Of Fairy Lights Over Festoon Lights

  • If you want to wrap lights around trees, fairy lights are great for this
  • If you want to light a wall and you want hundreds of lights coming down the wall, then fairy lights are the way to go
  • If you wanted your ceiling to look like it had millions of stars on it, you can create this look with fairy lights
  • Lighting a garden archway is easy with fairy lights 
  • Fairy lights aren’t as bright as festoon lights, so you probably won’t need to dim them 

When Would You Choose Festoon Lights Over Fairy Lights?

One of the things I do regularly here at Fusion Lighting is, I install festoon lights and fairy lights for customers. So, I’ve got a good idea of how these two types of lighting affect an outdoor area.  

If you’re lighting an outdoor entertaining area, you’d use festoon lights. 


Because if you want your outdoor area to have style and class and look stunning for an evening. Festoon lights give you this and more. 

In the wrong type of setting, fairy lights can look tacky. 

Festoon Lights Are An Investment That Pay You Back Many Times Over

You get paid back with an outdoor area you love. You get stunning lights. The bulbs are beautiful, and you choose them. If a bulb stops working, you can easily replace it. With fairy lights, when it’s obvious many of the lights aren’t working, you throw the whole thing out. 

With our festoon cable, we give you a Class Leading 5-Year Warranty. 

We’ve got customers who had their festoon cable for over eight years now. Fairy lights will not give you the same longevity as festoon lights. 

Festoon Bulbs Give Style, Character, And Appeal To An Area

The bulbs in festoon lights are a real feature, creating style and character. That’s why our LED filament bulbs are so popular. Customers love the bulbs' stylish shape and how the LED filaments look lit up. 

You’d use festoon lights over fairy lights because festoon lights are brighter. Our festoon lights can be set up with a dimmer. They are dimmable because if you can’t control the light level, you’ll never get the perfect amount of light in your outdoor entertaining area. 

In the hundreds and hundreds of outdoor entertaining areas I’ve seen, in nearly all cases, festoon lights are superior to fairy lights. 

When Would You Choose  Fairy Lights Over Festoon Lights?

Trees: Fairy lights turn trees into beautiful night-time features. In many cases, fairy lights wrapped around trees look beautiful. 

When you look at a tree and see hundreds and hundreds of tiny fairy lights, it looks magical.

Another great thing with fairy lights is wrapping them around some structure. 

For example… 

Garden Archway: A garden archway looks great with fairy lights wrapped around it. 

Bicycle: If you had an old bicycle as a feature in a garden, you could wrap fairy lights around it and turn it into a night-time feature. 

Walls: Walls with fairy lights look great; they turn the wall into a feature. 

Light Tunnel: Fairy lights can be used to create a tunnel for people to walk through. Light tunnels are great for weddings and public spaces. 

Low-Level Lighting For Outdoor Entertaining Areas: You could run fairy lights around the edge if you wanted low-level lighting in your outdoor entertaining area. Or run fairy lights along the roof structure. 

Raining Lights Effect: If you want to create an effect that looks like it’s raining lights, you can use fairy lights to create this effect. You can hang fairy lights from a tree, and they look like it’s raining fairy lights. 

Which Last Longer - Festoon Lights Or Fairy Lights?

Festoon lights last longer, and here’s why…

If a bulb stops working, you can replace it. If a light stops working in the fairy lights, you can’t replace it. 

If you invest in a high-quality festoon cable, you get years and years of use from it. Our festoon cable comes with a 5-Year Warranty. We’ve got a customer who’s had their festoon cable for over eight years.

You can get high-quality fairy lights, and the cable may last just as long as festoon cable, but the thing is, once a fairy light stops working, you cannot replace the light. The cable is never the problem with fairy lights; it’s always the lights. 

When you notice a heap of fair lights have died, your only option is to throw the whole lot out. Or drop it off at a metal recycling place. 

If we look at fairy lights and festoon lights from an environmental angle, festoon lights beat fairy lights every day of the week. 

Avoiding Common Pitfalls With Festoon And Fairy Lights

Buy from a company with a proven track record. To find a company with a proven track record, what you’re looking for is the following:  

Do they install their lighting? 

This is important because anyone installing lights they sell knows the lighting inside out. 

A company that is hands-on with its lights has usually experienced issues and problems that can only be discovered from being hands-on in the field with the product. They’ve found things that needed improvement and faults and flaws with the lights.  

Then, they went back and worked hard on fixing the faults and flaws and developed the product further with new technology. They have engineered the manufacturing processes that improve the life of the lights. What all of this does is evolve and advance the lighting.

You can’t do this if you’re not hands-on with your product. 

Buy the highest quality you can from a hands-on company with their product because you’ll spend all this time, money, and effort to light your outdoor area. The last thing you want is to replace all the lighting in 6-12 months. 

With Festoon and Fairy Lights Warranty Matters 

Don’t buy from any company that only offers a 12-month warranty. 


Over the past five years, there have been significant advancements in lighting technology and how lights are made. 

Maybe the companies offering 12-month warranties use outdated technology or cheap parts and components in their lights compared to companies offering 5-year warranties.  

If You Want A Jaw-Dropping Wow Factor For Your Outdoor Area, Choose Lights That Suit What Your Lighting 

I can’t stress this enough because so many get this part wrong. 

Wrong like this …

If I wore my underpants over my suit pants, it would look horrible and offensive to some. And more, it would look like I don’t know how to dress myself. 

That’s exactly what it’s like when you use the wrong type of light to light up an area. 

Creating a jaw-dropping lighting effect is about using the right type of light. 

I’ve installed fairy lights in commercial and residential settings, mainly in trees. With fairy lights, most people want to use them to light trees, walls, light archways, or have the fairy lights look like they are falling off a building. But it’s mainly trees. 

Festoon lights are used to light outdoor entertaining areas for commercial and residential customers because the festoon lights have charm, character and appeal you don’t get from fairy lights in the same situation. 

Festoon Lights Don’t Date 

Festoon lights would fit into any era - the 1920’s. Festoon lights would fit right in. In ten years, festoon lights will still be fashionable. 


Because of the beautiful way, festoon lights light up an area. And because the bulbs in festoon lights create a classic, timeless look that nothing else comes close to.

Get A FREE Custom Lighting Plan 

Contact us if you’d like some help and advice on lighting your outdoor area. 

We offer a Free lighting plan and design

Simply email some pictures of the area you want to light and a rough drawing showing the area's measurements, and we can then work it all out for you. 

You may also be interested in

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping