Share the holiday joy with the best outdoor Christmas lights you can buy
Christmas is just around the corner, so you might have already started thinking about how you’re going to decorate your home. The tree is probably going to be your first priority, but if you’re really planning to embrace the Christmas spirit, you’ll want to decorate the outside of your home too with the best set of outdoor Christmas lights you can find.
The very mention of outdoor Christmas lights brings to mind the image of Chevy Chase shutting down the power grid with “a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights”. Our list, on the other hand, is a bit more modest, far more practical and definitely safer – while still allowing you to be the festive envy of your neighbours.
Read on for our pick of the best outdoor Christmas lights you can buy. If you’re still confused about what types of lights to buy – whether it be battery or mains-powered, festoon or ornament – we’ve put together a little buying guide to help you out.
Best outdoor Christmas lights: At a glance
|Best overall outdoor Christmas lights
|NETTA LED Fairy Lights | from £15
|Check price at Amazon
|Best battery-operated fairy lights
|Koopower Battery Operated Waterproof Fairy Light | £8.49
|Check price at Amazon
|Best festoon lighting
|Twinkly Faceted C9 Bulbs | £100
|Check price at Twinkly
|Best outdoor ornament light
|Lights4fun Harlow Rattan Light-Up Leaping Stag | £200
|Check price at Twinkly
|Best string lights
|Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights | £120
|Check price at Twinkly
How to choose the best outdoor Christmas lights for you
Mains or battery powered?
As both mains-powered and battery-operated lights have their own pros and cons, this really depends.
The most obvious benefit of battery-powered lights is that they’re energy efficient and will save you a considerable amount of money. You also get more freedom of choice when it comes to where you put them. On the other hand, they’re not going to be as bright as mains lights and you might find yourself replacing the batteries regularly.
Mains-powered lights shine much brighter so they may be a better choice if you really want your decorations to be seen. One obvious drawback, however, is that you’ll need to work out how – and where – to plug them in (for which you may need to buy an outdoor extension lead). It also goes without saying that mains-powered lights are going to be more expensive to run, depending on how long you plan to keep them on.
READ NEXT: The best Christmas jumpers to buy
What styles can I buy?
If you’re after a traditional festive look to decorate your roof, string lights are a good choice – whether mains-powered or battery-operated fairy lights. Depending on how much decoration you want, they come readily available in different lengths. Rope lights are also popular – encased in a thick plastic tube for weather resistance – as are icicle lights that hang down from a cord to give your home a wintery feeling.
A slight variation on the common string lights, festoon lighting is made up of bauble like bulbs that hang down and make an excellent festive awning. Traditionally, festoon lights are made of glass, but LED lights in a tougher plastic casing are more common these days.
Ornament lights are great if you want to make a bit more of a statement. Reindeer are a common choice, though you can get a whole range of different ornament lights including snowmen, Christmas trees, candy canes, Santas and penguins.
READ NEXT: The best Christmas tree decorations to buy
The best outdoor Christmas lights to buy in 2023
1. NETTA LED Fairy Lights: Best outdoor Christmas lights overall
Price when reviewed: From £15 | Check price at Amazon
It’s hard to go wrong with a decent string of Christmas fairy lights, and these mains-powered lights from NETTA are great for both indoor and outdoor use. They come with up to eight different lighting modes – including slow fade and a twinkling flash setting – all of which are controlled with a button on the plug.
There are three colours – cool white, multi-colour and warm white – as well as a range of sizes to choose from, from 10 up to 100 metres in length. In other words, you’ll have no trouble picking out a string of lights that suits your home down to the ground.
Key details – Size: 10m (100 lights) – 100m (1000 lights); Bulb type: LED; Colours: Cool white, multi-colour, warm white: Power source: Mains; Power cable length: 5m; Warranty: 1 year
2. Koopower Battery Operated Waterproof Fairy Lights: Best battery-operated fairy lights
Price when reviewed: £8.49 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re put off by the idea of increasing your electricity bill and energy consumption over the Christmas period – and you also don’t mind making a small sacrifice in the brightness department – then battery-powered is the way to go.
These lights are powered by three AA batteries that fit into a waterproof box. Some Amazon customers have reported getting a good three weeks use out of one set – although, naturally, this depends on what batteries you use and how often you use the lights.
Despite being battery-powered, you still get eight different lighting modes – much like the NETTA fairy lights – as well as a six hours on/18 hours off timer function.
Key details – Size: 10m (100 lights) Bulb type: LED; Colours: Warm white; Power Source: 3 x AA batteries; Warranty: 14 months
3.Twinkly Faceted C9 Bulbs: Best festoon lighting
Price when reviewed: From £100 | Check price at Twinkly
If you’re serious about lighting, then smart lighting is the way forward and we have a few suggestions on this list. First up is this set of multicoloured festoon lights, which have a pretty pinecone shape and are made from robust plastic along a sturdy dark green cable. Controlled using the Twinkly app, which is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa and the Apple HomeKit, each light can be set individually for colour, speed and sequenced to create incredible results.
If you don’t have time to fiddle about there are 15 preset programmes to choose from – from sunset hues to rainbow brights and Christmassy twinkles – making these a real year-round investment. It’s also possible to set the rotations to music, and for each set of lights to be grouped with other Twinkly items. Pricey, but impressive.
Key details – Size: 12.2m (40 lights); Bulb type: LED; Colours: Multicolour; Power Source: Mains; Power Cable Length: 1.5m; IP rating: IP44; Warranty: 12 months
4. Harlow Rattan Light-Up Leaping Stag: Best outdoor ornament light
Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon
While not the cheapest option on this list, this woven rattan stag is one of the classiest outdoor Christmas ornaments going, adding a lovely rustic charm to your own personal winter wonderland. Laced with 240 LED lights, the Rattan Stag twinkles in three different shades from an icy white to a warm white glow, lighting up your porch or lawn beautifully at night.
As there’s little point in having the stag lit up when everyone has gone to sleep, the lights can be set with a six-hour timer, automatically shutting them off and saving you from unnecessary electricity expenditures. If you’d like to complete the family collection – and you’ve got the money going spare – Lights4Fun also offers a doe and fawn model, in complimentary sizes.
Key details – Size (HWD): 140 x 108 x 20cm; Bulb type: LED; Colours: Icy, Neutral & Warm White; Power source: Mains; Power cable length: 8m; IP rating: IP44; Warranty: 2 years
5. Twinkly Icicle Lights: Best icicle lights
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at Twinkly
Another set of smart lights from Twinkly here. This is a set of pretty icicle lights which hang from different lengths along a clear cable for the ultimate festive look.
They look great hung around a porch or bay window in one continuous line, or can be layered or zigzagged across a shorter area; the app asks you to take a photo of your particular layout so the lights can be best sequenced and this really makes a difference to the effect.
It’s great fun experimenting with all the preset programmes (our current preference is Pale Rainbow but we’ll be moving into Candy Cane soon) and kids and adults alike are fascinated by what these clever lights can do.
Set them to music, coordinate sets across the whole house or make your own designs up. For the full festive effect we recommend picking up the coordinating Twinkly Pre-lit Wreath too, which is just brilliant.
Key details – Size: 5.5m (190 lights); Bulb type: LED; Colours: Multicolour; Power source: Mains; Power cable length: 1m; IP rating: IP44 ; Warranty: 12 months
6. Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights: Best string lights
Price when reviewed: £120 | Check price at Nanoleaf
These string lights are our top pick for tree lights – inside or out. With a whopping 250 bulbs across two linked strings of 10m, the Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights make for a breathtaking Christmas tree, whichever setting you go for.
Easily controlled using the Nanoleaf app (available on Google Play and the AppStore), the setup takes seconds and is self-explanatory. Choose from nine preset programmes and transitions – think Crackling Fireplace, Icicle or the neon bright Reindeer Gamer – and set them to the beat of your favourite festive tunes to wow your Christmas guests.
Smart scheduling allows you to set the lights to come on and off at certain times, and everything can be controlled remotely, whether you’re tucked up in bed or at a party miles away.
With over 16 million shades to choose from, it’s easy to personalise your lights to your own liking, and while these smart lights don’t come cheap they do consume up to 90% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, so it’s money well spent.
Key details – Size: 20m (250 lights); Bulb type: LED; Colours: Multicolour; Power source: Mains; Power cable length: 3.4m; IP rating: IP44; Warranty: 2 years