This year, the Philips Hue line added string lights for the first time, marking the debut of the only string light product that integrates with the Philips Hue ecosystem. The Festavia string lights are $160 and can be used for Christmas trees, holiday decorations, or year-round accent lighting.
There is currently a single Festavia product and the Festavia includes 250 mini smart LEDs on a 65ft cord, which is a standard length for a string of lights. The cable is black and the LEDs are rounded with a flat top, creating a soft look.
During the day the black string tends to stand out a bit more on my tree than a green string and it mostly rules out the Festavia for lighter colored trees e.g. B. for whites. I hope that in the future the Hue line will offer other Festavia options with colored cords that suit a wider range of trees.
I have a six foot tree and the Festavia was just enough light for it, although I probably could have gotten by with two strings as I like a lot of lights. Alternatively, if a tree is against a wall, the lights would only look fuller on the front than on the back.
The Festavia lights are HomeKit-enabled and can be controlled via the Home app and Siri voice commands. However, since these are Hue lights, a Hue bridge is required, as is the Hue app. The Hue app is used to change the colors of the lights, and it’s worth noting that these are gradient lights.
You can choose three gradient colors in gradient mode and mirror mode, or up to five colors in diffuse mode, allowing each light to be set to a different color. That means there’s not as much control as there’s with something like the Twinkly, but you can sync the lights to music if you wish.
The Twinkly lights, which are around $105 for the 250 on Amazon, are the obvious comparison to the Festavia lights. Twinkly lights are also HomeKit-enabled, so I’d like to point out a few things for those trying to decide between Twinkly and the Hue Festavia lights.
First off, the Twinkly lights are a a lot of brighter. The Philips Hue lights are more subtle and less glaring at 100 percent brightness, which I think is a good thing. The twinkly lights are too bright by default so I dim them all the way down. If you like it bright, you know Twinkly lights are brighter.
Hue seems a little more color accurate and colors are richer in tone, also there seems to be a wider range of colors available in terms of color accuracy. I can change the color of each Twinkly light individually (although it’s not the quickest or easiest thing to do in the app), but I can’t do that with the Festavia. The Festavia supports different color gradients and a mix of up to five selected colors that are assigned to the lights.
I don’t mind not being able to control each of the LEDs separately, but I think the Festavia lights are less fun than the Twinkly lights. There are a ton of effects possible with the Twinkly and you can choose different patterns, colors and even draw words and pictures, while the Festavia is more limited.
However, the Hue lights have a more subtle, classy look. Hue’s gradients aren’t reproducible with Twinkly lights, and Hue also has some nice animations that Twinkly can’t match. There’s a “Sparkle” animation that’s made up of simple white lights of various shades that slowly shift to make it look like twinkling lights, and there’s a chimney animation that has a soft orange glow. There are also various color shift animations available through the Hue Labs feature in the app, although they’re not exactly intuitive to access and use.
Sparkling light animations are all fast, even on the slowest setting, and I prefer the more elaborate tonal patterns. I wish there were more animations via the Hue app as it’s limited to three. I hope more will be added in the future.
There’s limited colorful animation, and the color light settings are mostly limited to static designs in gradients or scattered patterns outside of Hue Labs functionality. The Hue lights can be integrated with other Hue lights. So if you have Hue lightbulbs, Hue light strips, or other Hue products, you can create light scenes that integrate all of your lights, including the Festavia.
The Hue app is easy to use for the most part, but it takes a little getting used to. You can toggle between color options and shades of white, or select the Effects tab to enable animation. Light colors can be changed by dragging the icons on the color wheel with one finger, and this is an interface where you can control all your Hue lights together, group them, or choose individual colors for each.
There are also simple controls for adjusting the brightness and more limited options in the Home app. You can set individual colors for all lights in the Home app and change the brightness, and Siri can be used for this too. The Hue app is required for the effects and the multicolor options.
Because these are HomeKit-integrated lights, you can set timers for them to run and use automations to wake them up when you’re home, when you leave, or in response to other “HomeKit” devices like motion sensors.
Because of the way the Festavia lights integrate with other Hue lights, I’d recommend them as a top choice for anyone with a Philips Hue setup. Festavia’s string lights are beautiful, the app is easy to use, the effects are subtle, and the ability to use the lights alongside other Hue products for lighting scenes makes the expense more worthwhile.
Festavia’s string lights are ideal for those who already have Philips Hue lights or want a soft, classy look for a Christmas tree or as holiday decorations. They’re not as interactive as the Twinkly lights, so might not be ideal for families with kids who’d love to play with the color-changing Twinkly features, but they’re perfect for those who want a less hands-on lighting experience that’s more subdued.
how to buy
The Festavia lights are available on the Hue website, but unfortunately are currently out of stock. A spokesman for Philips Hue said there has been a lot of excitement about the Festavia and the company is working to make additional stock available for purchase as soon as possible.