Tis the season to smarten your holiday lights. The Philips Hue Festavia add an extra dash of spirit to your Christmas tree, Festivus pole or wherever you’d want to use string lights. Considering their cost — $159 for a 65-foot strand — you’ll probably want to use them all year round, too.
Philips Hue has a number of entries on our list of the best smart lights; while they’re pricey, the company has come out with some inventive ideas over the years. For this Philips Hue Festavia review, I strung them up on my Christmas tree and tried out all the neat things you can do with the lights, such as syncing them with a Spotify account.
Philips Hue Festavia lights: Price and availability
The Philips Hue Festavia lights went on sale in November 2022 at Philips-hue.com for $159. At the moment of this writing, they are sold out.
If you want to use the lights, you’ll also need a Philips Hue Bridge ($59, sold separately) so you can control them via the Hue app.
Philips Hue Festavia lights: Design
String length: 65.6 feet
Number of lights: 250
Cord length: 6 feet
Color temperature: 2200-6500 K
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
The Festavia lights measure roughly 65 feet long, with 250 lights. They connect to a small box, which then connects to a larger power supply, which itself has a fairly long cord to plug into an outlet. The one thing I wish the box had was a switch; the only way to turn the lights off is to unplug the cord or via the Hue app.
I found that one strand of the Festavia lights was just enough for an 8-foot Fraser Fir that was about 4 feet wide at the base; any taller or wider, and I would have wanted more lights. Unfortunately, you can’t add any more lights to the end of the Festavia, as you would with traditional Christmas lights. So, if you get halfway up your tree and realize you’ll need more lights, you’re a bit stuck. Also, while LEDs are more durable than traditional incandescent bulbs, the individual bulbs in the Festavia lights are not replaceable.
The lights come boxed in a cardboard spool; it would be nice if the spool were plastic so it would last longer.
Philips Hue Festavia lights: App and effects
What separates the Festavia lights from all other Christmas lights is how they're controlled with the Hue app. Changing the colors of the lights is just the start.
For starters, you can create a gradient along the entire strand, selecting three colors as the start, middle, and endpoint. And, you can change where the midpoint starts. If you want a more scattered look, you can pick up to five different colors to appear randomly along the strand.
Here, you can also opt to use the full color spectrum or just different white temperatures, as well as the overall brightness of the strand.
The Hue app also has a wide variety of “scenes,” which are pre-set color palettes that you can apply to the lights. You can also create a custom scene, which can even be based on a photo.
Although you have only three Effects to choose from — Candle, Fireplace, and Sparkle — these proved to be the feature I liked the most. The Sparkle effect causes each light to subtly twinkle. It was the one I liked the best, and the setting I kept using the most.
One of the neatest tricks is syncing the lights to music playing through Spotify. For this, you’ll need a Spotify account (of course), which you connect to within the Hue app. Once that’s done, you can then select how you want the lights to react to the music, the colors to be used, the intensity of the effect, and the brightness.
Apart from the Hue app, you can also connect the Festavia lights to Alexa and Google Assistant, so that you can control them using your voice, or add them to an Alexa routine to turn all your lights on and off at the same time.
Philips Hue Festavia review: Verdict
If you search Amazon for Christmas lights, you can find any number of string lights, many of which come with remotes that let you change their colors, flash on and off in patterns — and for a lot less than the Philips Hue Festavia.
However, as this Philips Hue Festavia review has shown, Festavia lights offer a few extra features that allow you even greater control over the lights — and even let you sync them to your music. So, if you want the most high-tech holiday lights, then the Philips Hue Festavia are worth the splurge.