Philips Hue Festavia String Lights Review – Smart Christmas tree lights that compete vs Twinkly

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Philips Hue Festavia String Lights Review Rating

Summary

The Philips Hue Festavia string lights are an excellent option for existing Hue owners. These lights will integrate perfectly into your existing set-up, and the dynamic scenes create an attractive animation effect across all the lights within your room or zone.

Overall
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Pros

  • Works seamlessly with all your other Hue lights
  • Dynamic scenes create an attractive effect

Cons

  • Probably not worth it vs Twinkly unless you already own Philips Hue lights

Recently, Philips Hue announced the Festavia string lights, which are designed for Christmas and the holiday season and, more specifically, Christmas Trees.

There are surprisingly very few brands competing in the smart Christmas tree lighting niche. You have your typical random Chinese brands available on Amazon, but if you want a good experience, there has only really been one brand to choose from in recent years, Twinkly.

In my opinion, anyone that has invested heavily in Philips Hue will find the Festavia lights a better product than Twinkly.

Philips Hue Festavia vs Twinkly Strings

I have reviewed a few Twinkly products in the past couple of years, but the standout products are the various sting lights they produce. I reviewed the Twinkly Strings Gold Edition, but they currently have three colour options, multicolour, multicolour & white and gold/silver. Each option has multiple lengths, normally starting at 250 LEDs but going up to 600 LEDs.

Twinkly has cornered the smart lighting market for decorations because it is possible to map all your lights and then create attractive lighting patterns. You can map multiple products making the animation effect as simple or as complex as you like. I found that the Twinkly Strings were a fun product to play with, but I think you need a lot of lights if you want to create an impressive effect.

Twinkly even has a business side that specialises in extravagant installations.

Therefore, Philips Hue is at a disadvantage in the world of smart Christmas lighting. The Festavia string lights have nowhere near the level of customisation you can achieve from Twinkly, and they cost more vs the like-for-like Festavia multicolour string lights.

On the other hand, Hue has one massive advantage. Philips Hue is the market leader for smart lighting, I’d estimate more than half the people I know have some sort of Hue product in their home.

I loathe having dozens of different apps to control all my smart home devices (hopefully, Matter may solve this), and I am heavily invested in Philips Hue. Therefore, Festavia makes a lot of sense to me, and I think this will be true for a large number of users.

In Use / Dynamic Scenes / Media Syncing

If you are an existing Hue user, the setup is identical to every other Hue product. Plug the lights in, go to the app and search for a new device then follow the set-up instructions. This includes adding it to a room etc. For me, I created a new room just for the Christmas tree, then added that to a zone.

Even though you don’t have the fancy animation effects that Twinkly has. The Philips Hue Festavia integrates perfectly within the Hue ecosystem. If you assign the lights to a room or zone, you can set a scene for all the lights within that zone rather than just having your Christmas lights work independently (like Twinkly).

You can also use a dynamic scene which will gradually change the colours of your lights. You can control the speed and brightness to make it as subtle or intense as you like. This works better for me than Twinkly because I already own a lot of Hue products. Therefore I can create a dynamic scene with all the existing lights within my room. With Twinkly, I’d have to buy multiple products to achieve a similar effect.

Philips Hue has also created a new scatter pattern for these lights. Normally you have a line gradient, which makes sense for the light strips with the colours sensibly transitioning into each other. With the scatter pattern, you get the random pattern that many people will likely want to achieve on their Christmas tree.

As you’d expect, Festavia lights can work with everything else you have within Hue. You can have schedules or assign the lights to buttons, dimmers or the Hue Tap Dial. Everything works seamlessly.

Like other Hue lights, the Festavia are compatible with Spotify. I am not normally a fan of syncing my lights with music, but in this scenario, I can see the appeal of people wanting to sync their Christmas tree lights with music. It will no doubt create a pleasant effect when playing Christmas songs throughout the holiday season.

Similarly, if you have a Philips Hue Play HDMI sync box, you can synchronise the lights to any content that you are playing on the TV.

Power Draw / Electricity Costs

As I have written about the cost of living a lot recently and have therefore started testing the cost of running products.

The Festavia comes with a surprisingly large power brink, but it is only rated for 40W. Hue claims that the standby power draw is 0.5w and the typical power draw should be 15W.

Price and Alternative Options

The Philips Hue Festavia are priced at £139.99 RRP, and these have 250 RGB LEDs on a 20m/65ft cord. They officially launched on the 15th of November, but the website says they are already sold out. I’d expect new stock soon.

Twinkly Generation 2 with 250 RGB lights on a 20M string have an RRP of £115, but there is a decent discount during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. On Amazon, they have been at around £107, since April and are currently £92.39. Argos have them for £86.25.

There are other smart string lights, but none of them come close to the quality of Philips Hue or Twinkly.

If you only want basic smart control of your lights, and working on a schedule, then you’d likely be better off with dumb lights and using a smart plug.

Overall

I think the Philips Hue Festavia is strictly a product that is for existing Philips Hue systems. If you have heavily invested in Hue, then it just makes sense to stick with Hue for your Christmas tree lights.

I am one of those people, and therefore I love them. I am a big fan of the Hue ecosystem in general, it is just easy to use and works flawlessly.

For other people, it is hard to ignore Twinkly. They are cheaper, and you have superior functionality with the lights. I don’t particularly like the Twinkly app, I find it ugly and clunky compared to Hue, but once you have the lights set up, there is not much need to keep going into it.  

For existing Hue owners and depending on what you want from your Christmas lights, I find that the Festavia are more cost-efficient than Twinkly. I have multiple lights in one room and all of these are assigned to a scene, including the new Festavia lights. All these lights work perfectly within a dynamic scene. I’d have to buy multiple Twinkly lights to achieve a similar effect. Of course, I can’t create fancy animations with Hue, but that is not something I am that bothered about.

Overall, while the Philips Hue Festavia are expensive, I don’t think £25 extra vs the Twinkly Generation 2 is too much of a price premium to have all might lights working flawlessly under one ecosystem.

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