Philips Hue Festavia: Two-minute review
If bold but minimalistic lights are your go-to at Christmas, or you just like the idea of syncing your Christmas tree with the rest of your smart lighting, then the Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights might be for you. Philips Hue’s lights are among the best smart lights, so it’s no surprise that the brand has ventured into string lights. While these smart lights were initially released in December 2022, there were a lot of issues with stock, and the lights were for indoor use only; you can use 2023’s edition outdoors, as well as in your home.
Available in different lengths directly from Philips Hue as well as third-party retailers like Amazon (pricing detailed in the next section), these lights are marketed predominantly as tree decorations, but are weatherproofed and therefore also suitable for outdoor use. They offer much the same features and functionality as Philips Hue’s wider smart lighting line, as well as the robust design and build quality we’ve come to expect from the brand.
However, if you want a little more from these lights – specifically features and functions you’d commonly expect from standard tree lights, you’ll likely find yourself disappointed.
The string lights are split into two halves, A and B. Both halves start in the middle of your tree, with the former working upwards and the latter downwards. It’s worth noting that because of this, if you’re using the lights to decorate something other than a tree, the power supply is situated in the middle of the light strip.
I opted against using Hue’s lights for my tree after careful consideration; they were ever so slightly shorter than what I needed for full coverage. The split strings can make them a little difficult to use for anything beyond tree decoration, but in my home, I used them to line two living room walls, which ended up giving a lovely effect. Each individual light is round, roughly 1.11 inches / 3cm long, and spaced 2.95 inches / 7.5cm apart.
Although Hue’s bulbs are remarkably bright, when I quickly trialed tree placement following Philips Hue’s detailed instructions on my 7.2ft / 2.2m tree, I realized the particular shape of my tree and its size wouldn’t do the lights justice in photos. That’s largely to do with the tree I bought this year, but I also prefer densely lit trees; the spacing of these lights makes them ill-suited for those who dislike darker voids on their tree. This is worth noting, as Philips Hue suggests that the 500-bulb version I tested offers coverage for trees over 7ft / 2.1m tall but, as mentioned, they proved unsuitable.
The black cord used to connect the lights also seems like a poorly thought-out choice when many string lights are green to match the tree or come in a choice of colors. Add to that the thickness of the wires, and it can be quite apparent when the lights are hung up.
I did appreciate the Festavia string light’s brightness, which was just right for that gentle, homely feeling I want from festive lighting. If you did want to use them for anything else throughout the rest of the year, though, the max brightness might be a little low compared to Philips Hue’s strip lights.
As with all Philips Hue smart lights, the Festavia string lights can be controlled using Philips Hue’s app via either a Philips Hue Bridge or Bluetooth connection. It’s superbly easy to set up, and from the app you’ll have access to almost all of the usual features and options, including the 16 million color options and six special effects: Candle, Fireplace, Glisten, Sparkle, Prism, and Opal. Personally, I favored Glisten (a bolder flickering off-white), Sparkle (gentler flickering off-white), and Prism (rainbow gradient), as both Candle and Fireplace were too fiery, and Opal was a bit twee with its pastel palette.
Plus, you can sync the Philips Hue Festavia string lights with your other bulbs, or with your entertainment, provided you’ve got a Hue Play HDMI Sync box for your TV or a Spotify account for music.
Otherwise, these lights feel distinctly unchristmassy; it’s almost as if Philips Hue can’t decide if they’re regular string lights or festive ones. Yes, the profiles are great – but why are there only one or two settings versus the six or seven often included in dumb lights? Why can’t you adjust the colors, the speed, or design your own patterns?
For such a pricey product I felt rather let down by the Festavia lights’ lack of identity, but I’m nonetheless impressed as ever by Hue’s light quality and general features. With just some small software tweaks – and the option of different cable colors – these could easily be the smart lights of the future, and even worth their lofty price tag; but right now I’d say they’re only really worth it for the devout Philips Hue fan, given that other smart and colorful string lights exist at a much more affordable price, such as those from Twinkly and Nanoleaf.
Philips Hue Festavia: Price and availability
- How much is it? $219.99-$359.99 / £109.99-£199.99 / AU$199.95-$589.95
- When is it available? Available now
- Where is it available? Directly from Philips Hue and at Amazon
The Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights cost a pretty penny, there's no two ways about it. The three different string lengths have varied availability from region to region:
When compared to more affordable options like the Nanoleaf holiday smart string lights, which are a lot more festive-first, this makes the Philips Hue Festavia extortionately priced.
- Value: 3 / 5
Philips Hue Festavia: Specs
Should I buy the Philips Hue Festavia?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Philips Hue Festavia: Also consider
If the Philips Hue Festavia aren't for you, here are a couple of excellent alternatives
How I tested the Govee Christmas String Lights
- I used the Philips Hue Festavia lights to decorate my living room
- I also briefly trialed them on my Christmas tree
- I paired the Festavia lights with the Philips Hue app
I set the Philips Hue Festavia string lights up in my home, opting to use them to line my living room walls following a quick trial on my Christmas tree. I compared them to two sets of non-smart string lights to assess the brightness, color payoff, spacing and wire quality.
After decorating, I connected the Philips Hue Festavia to the Hue companion app, a setup I’m familiar with from testing smart lights over the past two years, and went to work testing out Philips Hue’s standard features on the lights. Additionally, I tried some of the Festavia-specific effects and the standard effects.
I’ve been testing smart home devices for two years, using my expertise and experience in tech testing and everyday use to assess the key strengths and weaknesses of products.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
First reviewed December 2023