Philips Hue Festavia string lights review: Spreading a little cheer - MrLiambi's blog


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Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Philips Hue Festavia string lights review: Spreading a little cheer

We've always considered Philips Hue and other smart lighting as especially useful during Christmas. Coloured lights can really make a home feel festive.

Now the brand clearly agrees as it's added a product designed to shine most during the holiday season. The Philips Hue Festavia string lights can be used in any party situation (if indoors), but are clearly best served wrapped around a Christmas tree or dangling from an internal window.

We've been testing them to see just how much smarter they can make the whole experience.

What you get

Like many Philips Hue products, the actual hardware is relatively simple.

The Philips Hue Festavia box contains a power adapter plus a 20-metre string of 250 white and colour ambience LED bulbs. It looks similar to most string lighting solutions, but perhaps a bit longer than you're used to and has a connection box on the end of the cord.

This is separate to the power adapter and is actually a bit of a pain during set-up, as it's large, clunky and can get in the way if you're threading the lights around a tree in a confined space, say. Philips Hue recommends you actually light a tree from the bottom up, but we've never done it that way and, even though we had to put up with a few tangles, we managed to decorate in our traditional top-to-bottom fashion with relative ease in the end.

Once wrapped (or hung across a window ledge, for example) you just plug the adapter and cord together through a proprietary connector and away you go.

It's worth pointing out at this stage that Festavia is for indoors use only. However, considering how cool the end result looks, we wouldn't be surprised if the brand isn't already looking at external variants too.


Setting up the smart lights is simple and similar to all other Philips Hue products. We have a Hue Bridge already installed, but you can technically control the Festavia lights through Bluetooth, too.

You will be missing out on a majority of the coolest features though, so it's recommended you have a Bridge to make the most of them. You will also need a Bridge to get them to work through Apple HomeKit.

collection: Philips Hue Festavia app

The lights are set-up through the Philips Hue app for iOS or Android. In our case, it found the lights immediately thanks to Zigbee support and added them to our line-up of Hue and Innr lights (which also work through the app). You get a choice to allocate them to a room and/or zone, which is handy if you plan to automate them through Alexa and have other smart Christmas products you want to switch on and off simultaneously.

Once connected, the app offers some neat modes and scenes. Plus. if you sync it with Spotify, you can have the lights "dance" in time to music. This offers plenty of options, such as colour changes and pulsing in time with the beat. It certainly amuses the kids.


As well as Spotify connectivity, the app gives you access to a number of different themed scenes. Some are themed around Christmas and the holiday season, others based on various additional, colourful presets.

You can also change the colours of your lighting across three zones - with the LEDs able to display a different colour per zone. If you've wrapped them around your tree in a up-down or down-up fashion, this enables coloured banding around the tree, which is very effective.

In addition, the lights blend between the different colours, so it looks nicer. Therefore, while you only get the choice between three zones, the end result has more gradiants than that.

Plus, the different preset scenes generally offer five colours and can be set to cycle through them. We particularly like the way the set colours stream up or down the tree, depending on your decoration direction, and the ability to create custom scenes means your options are endless.

There are a few extra effects to choose from too. Candle and fireplace are Philips Hue stalwarts, offering glowing colours that ape a flickering hearth or lit candle. Now we have sparkle too, which is a lighter yellow colour that shimmers across the different LEDs in seemingly random fashion. It's a nice option that we found ourselves using most.

As with other Hue lighting, you can set automations for your string lights, to turn them on or off by time of day, or even set a different colour. And, as they work with Alexa, Google Assistant and other smart home controllers (even supporting Matter), they are completely voice-enabled too - as long as you have a separate Echo or similar device nearby.

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