Philips Hue Festavia string lights review: brilliantly bright but lacking identity

Bah, humbug

Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

When Philips Hue’s Festavia lights are relieved of their festive responsibilities they make for a fantastic set of vibrant and vivid string lights. They come in three different lengths (though this varies by region), and feature Hue's famed vibrant LEDs. However, when used as tree lights or to bring some seasonal cheer, these lights lack identity, and fail to shine compared to some more affordable, festive-first lights.


  • +

    Can be used indoors and outdoors

  • +

    Bright with bold colors

  • +

    Matter, Google Home, Apple Home, and Alexa-compatible


  • -


  • -

    Unsightly black cord

  • -

    Scenes and effects lack festive cheer

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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. 

Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights next to a felt polar bear.

Christmas has come b-early! (Image credit: Future)

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. 

Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights

With the lights fully dimmed, the Festavia lights shine brightly (Image credit: Future)

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.

Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights

(Image credit: Future)

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: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
LED count Length Price
100 26.2ft / 8m Not available in US / £109.99 / AU$199.95
250 65.6ft / 20m $219.99 / £199.99 / $359.95
500 131.2ft / 32m $359.99 / Not available in UK / $589.95

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

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Here are the specs for the Philips Hue Festavia
Philips Hue Festavia
Designed for:Indoor and outdoor (IP54)
Connectivity:WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Hue Bridge
Voice command compatibilityMatter, Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT
Lumen output:Not specified
Lifetime up to:15,000h
Light color:16 million
Dimensions:26.2ft / 8m (100 bulbs), 65.6ft / 20m (250 bulbs), 131.2ft / 32m (500 bulbs), bulbs spaced 3 inches / 7.5cm apart

Philips Hue Festavia lights set up next to a polar bear plushie

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Philips Hue Festavia?

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Philips Hue Festavia report card
ValueIn the simplest possible terms; the Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights are very, very overpriced for what they are.3 / 5
DesignExcluding the black cord and far apart spacing, the design of the Philips Hue Festavia is just fine.4 / 5
PerformanceWhile the lights are beautful, Philip Hue's lack of creativity with festive light scenes and customizability makes Festavia a pretty but fairly uninspiring set of string lights.3.5 / 5

Buy it if...

You’re a Philips Hue fan

If you already own a Philips Hue-based smart lighting setup, the Hue Festavia lights are a no-brainer, allowing you seamless synchronization and lots of great features.

You want to place your lights outdoors

Thanks to the weatherproofing in this latest version of Hue’s Festavia lights, you can now hang them up outdoors.

You want colorful lights to match your smart home

If you’re already using smart lights around your home, the Festavia string lights will fit right in, offering vivid and vibrant colors.

Don't buy it if... 

You’re on a budget

The Philips Hue Festavia string lights are exorbitantly expensive, no two ways about it. For about a tenth of the price you can buy non-smart alternatives, but even the smart competition isn’t so steeply priced.

You want something full of festive features

I was really disappointed by how few features were built into the Festavia string lights and the Philips Hue app, especially when it comes to effects and customization.

You want a densely lit tree

These lights are fairly widely spaced, so if you really like that glowy effect given by a densely lit Christmas tree, look elsewhere.

Philips Hue Festavia: Also consider

If the Philips Hue Festavia aren't for you, here are a couple of excellent alternatives

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Philips Hue FestaviaGovee Christmas String LightsNanoleaf Matter Smart Holiday String Lights
Price: 100 LED: Not available in US / £109.99 / AU$199.95; 250 LED: $219.99 / £199.99 / AU$359.95; 500 LED: $359.99 / Not available in UK / AU$589.95From $59.99 / £59.99 (about AU$90)$119.99 / £119.99 (about AU$180)
Designed for:Indoor and outdoor Indoor and outdoor use Indoor and outdoor use
Connectivity:Bluetooth and Hue Bridge 2.4GHz Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
Voice command compatibilityMatter, Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant Alexa, Google Assistant Apple Home, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings
Lumen output:Not specified Not specified 250 lumens
Lifetime up to:15,000h Not specified 10,000 hours
Light color:16 millionRGBICRGB
Dimensions:26.2ft / 8m, 65.6ft / 20m, 131.2ft / 32m 66 ft (20 m) / 33 ft (10 m)2 connected strings of 33 ft (10 m)

Govee Christmas String Lights
With their unique, twisted rope with embedded light beads design, these Christmas string lights are easy to put up. And they're the most affordable option.

Read our full Govee Christmas String Lights review


Nanoleaf Matter Smart Holiday String Lights
Robust and very customizable, these are more similar to traditional string lights in design and a better option if that's what you're looking for.

Read our full Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights review

Philips Hue Festavia smart string lights

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Philips Hue Festavia 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.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed December 2023

Josephine Watson
Managing Editor, Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.