Lyon Lights Festival – Fête des lumières

4 Dec

Although there are other festivals of this kind around the world, the Festival of Lights in Berlin or the Diwali Festival in India,  the Lyon one is probably the most representative. Its origins come from as far as the 16th century and it celebrates the day when Virgin Mary spared the town from plague. Candles were lit up for that occasion and candles are lit up now everywhere at people’s windowsills all over town together with the fireworks launched from the top of Fourvière Hill by the municipality.

I also like to believe that this fascination with light is due to the fact that the brothers Lumière (could a surname be more appropriate?), the first filmmakers, lived here and their passion for moving images and light extended to the entire town.

Undoubtfully the festival is truly Lyon’s festival, it seems that its inhabitants pay higher electricity bills especially for these four days of celebration and their participation in the organization of the event is quite strong. The city council doesn’t delude either, every year it presents a different show and each district has its own light performances. In downtown the facades of every public house display an array of images,  sequences and projections that will pull you completely into a fairy land made of light, colours and music.I was there in 2009 and in Place des Terreaux they presented “Let’s Play with Time and the Weather”, an allegory of the running time and changing weatherPlace Louis-Pradel was transformed into a magic garden, oriental-likeThe slope of Grande-Côte became another garden with flowers of different colours where my childish inner self felt at homeSaint-Jean Cathedral had sketched on its facade the story of its makingPlace des Jacobins threw me into the Trevi fountain in Rome together with the luscious blond from Fellini’s La Dolce VitaThe Ferris wheel changed into a gigantic screenRue de la République welcomed me with strays of light ribbonsSaint-Nizier Church rebuilt itself and came alive in front of my eyesNotre-Dame de Fourvière carried me on the wings of a 23-bell carillon through the history of painting.The church was hard to reach but the view of Lyon from above was priceless  and, while descending, a luminous path guided me to the alleys of the Rosaire Garden, a natural oasis with lighted vegetation.The river Rhone took also part in the celebration with its 365 lit navigation signalsAnd last but not least Hôtel du Département was transformed into a monumental candle factoryAnd as if all this wasn’t enough, Place Carnot was  full with colorful, illuminated wooden chalets that welcomed me with the merry spirit of Christmas. There are 4 million visitors every year but you might not notice them: you’ll have your nose up in the air and your senses dazed. And if it happens to you, like it happened to me, to miss the last subway taking you home and you decide to walk back to your hotel after everybody went to sleep, then you’ll have the city all for yourself, and, on a rainy day, a double light festival for your enchanted eyes only.

10 Responses to “Lyon Lights Festival – Fête des lumières”

  1. ancutza December 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    wonderful memories and photos!

    • dusty laces December 5, 2011 at 1:10 am #

      Thank you Ancutza! Wonderful memories, I agree 🙂

  2. sinulog festival schedule December 13, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Nice article, I just found it, simple but it has some good that made my day. thanks! =)

  3. Karen December 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    What a wonderful time to visit Lyon. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. Karen December 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    Just wanted to stop back and wish you a Merry Christmas.

    • dusty laces December 27, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      Karen, thanks a lot! Happy holidays to you too!

  5. dana January 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Wow, I think it was a splendid show. I admit I have not seen this before, nor heard of this event in Lyon. I looked fascinated at the pictures and I read with great attention and your descriptions, so I did not remember what takes place during the show. I want to view it live. It is gorgeous. Thank you.

    • dusty laces January 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

      Dana, you have to go there, pictures are nothing compared to the real thing!

  6. Ioana January 3, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Nuuuuu cred, am fost la Festivalul Luminilor in acelasi an??? 🙂

    • dusty laces January 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Se pare ca da :-). Si eu mi-am dat seama de asta cand am vazut articolul tau despre piata de Craciun de la Lyon, pozele tale semanau mult cu ale mele. 🙂

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