Lyon Festival of Light 2019

One of, if not France’s most recognizable and world-renowned festivals arrives on December 8th to its home of Lyon. Where for over 350+ years, it has captured the love and imagination of people from around the world. Despite being known as French, Le Fête des Lumières is and will always be uniquely Lyonnais. Generations upon generation, Le Fête des Lumières is discussed with distinct regional pride and excitement unique to event.

 

Courtyard during the fete des Lumières in Lyon

Lighted courtyard during last years Fête © Muriel Chaulet

What is the Fête des Lumières?

Lyon’s « Festival of Light » is just as the name suggests: a celebration of light. Each year during the Fête, the city radically changes into an urban artscape of different visual art installation, transforming Lyon’s city streets, ancient buildings, and grand public squares into surreal and fantastic dreamlike landscapes.

The origin of the fête stretches back to the 1630s, but the first time that it was a true celebration of light was in the 1850s. On 8th, December 1852, Lyonnais Catholics were preparing a celebration in honor of the installation of the statue of the Virgin Mary on the bell tower of Fourvière.

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A grand event with fireworks and other festivities. Unfortunately, a storm blew in that evening, bad enough that the festival heads canceled the event altogether. Not deterred, the Lyonnais lit candles in their window, lighting up the streets as night fell, and despite the storm, took to the city that night to behold the lovely sight of Lyon by candlelight. Thus, the Fête des Lumières came to be.

 

Exhibition during La Fête des Lumières in Lyon

Hôtel de ville de Lyon © Muriel Chaulet.

When is the Lyon Lights Festival 2019?

Fête des Lumières will take place between Thursday the 5th & Sunday 8th of December, from 19h to 23h (Thursday and Sunday) & 20h to midnight (Friday and Saturday) respectfully. As soon as nightfalls each, you can be sure that the festival will commence, weather permitting, with the only odd time being the Rivière de Lumières (River of Lights), which is only Sunday starting at 19h.

 

Parc de la Tête D'Or during the fete des lumières in Lyon

Parc de la Tête d’Or © GROUPE F

Where is the Fête des Lumières 2019 taking place?

Le Fête des Lumières of course will be throughout Lyon, with the 36 visual and light based installations being in the cities Presqu’île (Bellecour 2e Arr to La Croix-Rousse 1er Arr) and Vieux lyon (Old Lyon 5e). There will be other installations outside of the centre-ville, at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (until January 5th) and most namely at Le Parc de la Tête d’Or (6e Arr).

Walking itineraries for Lyon Festival of Lights 2018

 

Highlights of Fête des Lumières 2019

Place Bellecour

A grand spectacle of flora and fauna built this year at Place Bellecour. Transforming into an immense garden of gorgeously lit pieces evoking the natural worlds beauty. Christophe Martine and visual artists TILT are set to unveil a brilliant array of installations, reacting and morphing with the introduction of movement or light in their areas.

Fête des Lumières in Lyon 2019

Place de Terreaux © Allumeurs d’images

Place des Terreaux

The artists of the Allumeurs d’images present between the immense buildings of the Hôtel-de-Ville and Musée des Beaux-Arts, a grand light show on the history of light and a tribute to the technicians that make the Fete des Lumières possible.

Candle boats on the Saône during the fete des lumières in Lyon

The Saône © Poïesis.

The Saône

In a gentle nod towards the traditions and history of Fête des Lumières, on the Sunday of the Fête, Lyon’s Saône river will play host to a procession of 20,000 lighted candle boats slowly drifting down the river come nightfall (19h). Each petite boats carrying aboard a note written by the Lyonnais residence as they float between the Saint-Vincent & Saint-George footbridges.

Practical Information

Each day, excluding Sunday, of the Fête des Lumières, TCL is offering a 3€ En Fête ticket for Lyon’s buses, Metros, and trams. On Sunday, from 16h to the end of the festival, you will be able to access the TCL free of charge.

Some access to the cities metro lines will be modified to accommodate the mass amount of people for the Fête. As well as city buses being restricted in the centre-ville between 16h30 (15h30 Sunday) and the closing of the festival.

 

Other Fete des Lumières stories

How it all began

The first light shows took place in Lyon on 8th December 1852 for religious reasons. Here’s the real story of the most popular event in Lyon.

Five Exhibitions to See This Winter in Lyon

A world premire Picasso exhibit, Yves Saint Laurent’s desgins made with true Lyonnais silk, and a host of newly currated paintings from Delaunay to Léger.

Face of Saint Jean during fete des lumieres
Top 10 Things To Do in Lyon in December 2019

From the famous Festival of Lights to Christmas markets.

5 Local Tips for Enjoying the Lyon’s Fête des Lumières

Almost 2 million visitors are expected to the city during the Festival of Lights in Lyon, so it’s essential to be organized if you want to make the most out of this time.

Exhibition during La Fête des Lumieres.
5 Unmissable Locations for Lyon’s Festival of Lights 2019

One of the most famous festivals in all of France has nearly come. Here are our five picks on where to go during the Fête des Lumières.

“To take good photos of Lyon, you need to take your time”

Photographer and visual artist, Guillaume J. Plisson, specialist in Lightgraff, unveils his top tips to take stunning pictures during the Festival of Lights.

Lyon Light Festival: From a local to an international event

Our contributor Debora takes us back in time, when the “Fête des Lumières” was a local event.

My Two Nights at the 2016 Fête des Lumières in Lyon

Our American contributor Jenna enjoyed the 2016 Fête des Lumières in Lyon despite the crowd. A story about vin chaud, mud, churros, machine guns, music and flames

My first Fête des Lumières in Lyon

My first “Fêtes des Lumières” in Lyon, back in 2014

My thoughts on my first ever Fête des Lumières in Lyon

Our contributor Caroline Connor tells all about her first Fête des Lumières in Lyon.

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