Festoon Hanging Installation Guide

How to Hang Festoon Lights Outdoors

Hanging festoon lights outdoors isn’t as tricky as you may think, but it does require a little preparation if you want to make anything special. Here are all the things you should know about the tools and materials for this process and how to hang them up in areas with and without trees.

The most important thing to remember about hanging festoon lights outdoors is that every location is different, so you may need to get a little creative when planning your installation. 

The best part though is that setting up festoon lighting is an easy DIY project which gives an impressive professional finish. Follow our simple installation steps below on and you’ll have the garden set up and ready for dusk drinks in no time.

Tools and Materials Required

You’ll need different tools depending on where you want to hang your lights. Figuring out how to hang festoon lights in a garden without trees is fundamentally different from using a pergola. Here the three primary installation situations.

1. Strung Between Fixing Points Less Than 20m Apart

  • Outdoor Festoon Lights: Make sure you have enough to cover the entire length of the area you want to illuminate. Remember all our mains powered festoons are connectable. Shop the range here
  • Outdoor Extension Cord: Must be rated for outdoor use, although you can skip this if you have an exterior outlet close enough to where you want to install your lights. If you need waterproof extension cords shop here
  • Drill: Electric or manual.
  • Tape Measure: Tape measures will help you measure the distances between hookup points as necessary.
  • Pencil/Painter’s Tape: Either of these will do well for marking spaces after measuring them.
  • Ladder: Unless you’re setting up at ground level, you’ll need one of these.
  • Metal Hooks/Eyes and S hooks: These will be used as fixing points. Make sure you get hooks that are sturdy enough to hold the weight of the belts and support wires. Most hooks are more than strong enough for our purposes but for safe measure, avoid the smallest and weakest ones.
  • Zip ties: These will be used to secure the belts to the metal hook and eye fixing points.

2. Strung Over Large Areas With Fixing Points Over 20m Apart

Festoon Lights for Wedding Venue

For this situation, you may also need the following tools:

  • String Light Suspension Items: These items are the best way to support lights over longer distances. You'll need a wire cable, pad eyes with screws, carabinas, lock clamps, and turnbuckles.
  • Wire Cutter: This is for trimming the wire cable to ensure it fits. 

3. In Gardens Without Trees Or Other Tall Supports

For this situation, you’ll need all the essential tools, and you may need the following extra tools and materials

  • Wooden Posts/Poles: These will form the basis of your stands. Get whatever height you prefer, but it’s generally better to put festoon lighting no more than 3.5 meters up.
  • Nails: Nails are useful if you want to attach to a fence.
  • Weighted Buckets: Buckets serve as the foundation for posts or poles

Your Follow Along Setup Guide Guide

Once you’ve gathered all your tools, and selected the appropriate festoon lights it’s time to get your hands dirty for transforming the garden! We’ve got follow along step by step instructions for how to hang festoon lighting in all types of garden spaces. If you’re working with a wooden deck, a patio area, an elevated balcony, or the garden lawn we’ve got you covered.

1. Plan your lighting layout and fixing points

Before you do anything else, figure out where you’re going to need fixing points installed by laying your festoon lighting out on the ground. Try to avoid draping them over the furniture or other obstacles because that can throw off your measurements.

This is the best time to figure out the pattern you want to use for your festoon lighting. Most people use X, V, zig-zag, parallel, or pinwheel patterns depending on the area’s shape. Keep the location of the power source in mind.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to make use of your garden surroundings, trees, fences, pergolas, and patios make for sturdy fixing points!

At the same time, look at potential fixing points in your backyard to see how well those support the pattern you want. Trees, tall fence posts and the sides of houses are all outstanding choices as fixing points.

Most people have trouble with fixing points farther away from the house, and that’s where installing posts or poles come into play. Done correctly, you can set up a sturdy pole with minimal effort. This lets you maximise your options and get the light pattern you want.

Fixing points should be less than 8m apart if you’re not using support wires.

This is an excellent time to test the LED globes and make sure all of them work. You don’t want to hang them up and only find out there’s a problem later!

 

Step 1: Install fixing points

Start your installation by placing screw hooks at the mounting points you’ve picked on each end of the space. Be sure to mount the screw hooks to something sturdy such as under the eaves of a building, a large tree or some other solid structure.

What types of fixing points you need depends on factors like the design you’re using, but most people do fine with simple metal hooks or eyes.

Drill holes for the hooks first, then screw each of your fixing points into place. 

 

Step 2: Connect & Tighten Cable

With the screw hooks in place, you’re ready to start hanging the cable.

Connect the snap hook on the cable guide wire to the screw hook at one end of the span.

Snap hook above

You can install support wires over almost any length, but consider adding additional support poles if you’re stringing them across an area longer than 20m. Support wire should be rustproof, generally stainless steel wire will do the job here.

Run the unfinished end of the cable to the other screw hook, loop it through and then loop the cable guide wire back through another cable clip - see below. The cable clip allows you to adjust the length and tautness of the wire. After reaching the right length/tautness, you can cut off any excess wire extending from the cable clip.

Cable Clip Above

Alternatively, you could also use a turnbuckle to more easily get the tautness you want in the guide wire - see below.

Turnbuckle above

If you are making a zigzag or other pattern and need to change direction at a sharper angle then the guide wire naturally bends, you can opt to stop and start your guide wire by cutting the guide wire and using additional cable clips to make the intersection - see below

Guide wire intersection above

Step 4: Attach lights to fixing points or steel wire support cable

Once you have your fixing points up, it’s time to hang the lights themselves. Make sure you use cable ties to firmly attach the lights to your wire or fixing points. 

If you’ve purchased festoon lights with hooks attached to the top of them (as pictured) you can simply loop the zip tie through the hook and around the support wire!

Installation where the spans between fixing points are under 20m apart and no support wire is required can simply be attached to the fixing points.

 

4. Screw-in the LED light bulbs

It’s now time to screw in each of the LED bulbs before switching the power on. Most festoon lighting kits are fitted with E27, Edison Screw fittings, these are the easiest and simplest to use. Simply screw each bulb clockwise in the socket until the base of the bulb touches the base of the socket, or can go no further. 

Make sure the light bulbs are screwed all the way to create a tight waterproof seal. 

5. Connect to power and turn on the system

After all the LED bulbs are snug in their sockets, it’s time to flick on the power and test your system to be sure the whole thing works.

The beautiful warm white glow emitted from the light bulbs will sparkle long into the evening, setting the scene for many memorable nights ahead.

If you notice a few bulbs not lighting up, turn the power off and screw them a little tighter. They should then light up. 

How to Hang Festoon Lights in the garden without trees

For those wondering how to hang festoon lights in the garden without trees or support points, you’ll need to be a little more creative to achieve your dreamy landscape. Making use of some common garden features you’ll be able to suspend the lights above your guests with ease.

1. How to setup string lights on a fence

If you have an existing fence and you want to hang festoon lights up, attach some cup hooks and hang them from here. This is by far one of the easier options.

 How to Hang Festoons and String Lights

If you want to hang your lights directly onto your fence, you can simply attach metal mounting hooks or cup hooks onto your fence and suspend your lights from them!

Now that you have installed the support for your lights, it’s time to hang them! Tip: Hang the cable without the bulbs first. Then once you are happy with the layout and spacing, screw in the bulbs. Work your way along the fence to hang the lights on the supports. Make sure the power is disconnected when screwing in the lights. Once all are in place, turn the power on and watch them glow!

How to hang your string and festoon lights

2. How to hang string lighting under a pergola or covered patio

Hanging festoon lights under a pergola or a covered patio is arguably the easiest way to do it. You can attach cup hooks approximately every meter under your structure and create almost any type of design. Many people follow the existing lines on roofs or porch beams for aesthetic reasons, but you can also make other patterns with your string lights for these structures. 

Alternatively you can loop the festoons around the structure and only have the cup hooks for the start and end of your design.

 

3. How to hang festoon lights on a patio, deck or hard surface area

Always look to see where your connecting points can be and measure the space out. Your connecting points don't need to be matching. You can go from roofline to tree to post to tree etc.

If you’re working on a hard surface area and can’t break it up, get some of those buckets filled with concrete and space them out to match your design.

Festoon lights strung over more extensive patios will exert a lot of pull on the posts, so make sure you use enough posts and have enough weight at the bottom to keep them steady. Otherwise, a little too much wind could tip them over and bring the entire setup crashing down. If in doubt, err on the side of having more weight instead of less.

Check out planter posts blog here for how to make them. 

How to hang festoon lights

The good part about arranging festoon lighting this way is that you have almost total freedom for your poles’ placement, which means you can create some truly intricate designs.

Positioning

Festoon lights are easy to use due to their continuous string line and wall plug. If you want to create a long lasting display there are several accessories you can use to create an exciting layout. Cable ties are your best friend when hanging festoon lights. These can be attached to fence posts, sunshades (if you make a hole in the shade) ceilings or trees and are hardly noticeable. They help keep the string in place and wont allow movement. 

Or go solar for minimal ease and not having to worry about where the power plug is. 

 

Enjoy your lights! 

www.loveyourlights.co.nz