A year after the Savoy Theatre in London became the first public building in the world to be entirely lit by electricity in 1881, the owner came up with the bright idea of adorning the dresses of the fairies in their production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” with tiny lights.
And so, the term “fairy light” was born.
A year later, the same lights were put on a Christmas tree for the first time leading to a yuletide tradition still going strong today. But since then, they’ve been embraced in almost all other parts of the home too, including the garden, around windows, and throughout children’s bedrooms. Their popularity has led to countless combinations of light colours, bulb shapes, and power types—so much so that it can be difficult to choose. Here are a few pointers on finding the best fairy lights for you.
- Bulbs: When choosing, remember white highlights and enhances its surroundings whereas colours draw the eye directly to the light itself. However, it can be incredibly pretty, especially as most strings allow for twinkling or for cycling across the string. For those who find white a bit too bright, soft white is a far gentler option that can make a room feel warm and cosy.
- Power: There are three main ways to run your fairy lights, and it’s important to get the right one for your needs. Plug-ins need a power source and are mainly used indoors (although larger outdoor displays will also use plug-ins, so make sure you have a garden socket). If your lights are going to be used indoors but not near a power point, consider battery-run options. They’re also more attractive when used around household objects like mirrors and paintings, as no ugly cable is on display. Finally, solar options are great for gardens—they may not be quite so bright in winter, but they’ll still light up your space.
- Length: Fairy lights will do you no good if you don’t have enough for your space. If you’re looking to light up your Christmas tree, you’ll need about 50 bulbs for a three-footer but around 250 for one that’s six feet high. Otherwise, simply measure whatever you’re going to place around and buy the approximate length.
Our Picks for the Best Fairy Lights on Amazon
Top Pick Overall: Kohree USB Powered Multi Color Changing String Lights
Over a Dozen Hues
Powered by a USB, these are 33 feet long with 100 bulbs and can flash, strobe, fade, or just plain shine bright—whatever you choose.
Runner Up: Metaku Ulanox RGB Globe String Lights
Great For The Garden
These old-fashioned bulbs offer four flash modes and 10 speeds. The built-in timer allows for better control, and the transparent wire keeps your space looking put together.
Great Value: Sunnest Curtain Fairy Lights
Three Colour Options
Suitable for both inside and in the garden, this wall hanging has eight flash modes, including fireflies flashing and waving. Powered by USB, this can withstand heat and rain. SUNNEST
Great for Kids: Sunnest Star Fairy Lights
The wire of this item can be easily molded to fit your space and best show off the bulbs’ unique shape. SUNNEST
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