10 things you can do when you’re in Lyon for the “Fêtes des Lumières” 2017
By Kevin Bonnaud
Holiday Season Attractions
Lyon’s Christmas Market in Carnot Square
Wandering in the crowded alleys of Lyon’s christmas market right before the festival of lights evening celebrations kick-off is an increasingly popular tradition among locals and tourists as most light shows do not start before 8pm.
Warm your heart (and body) with tasty food from cold cuts to cheese, hot chestnuts, French crepes, waffles or of course a glass of hot wine.
It’s also an opportunity to find some gift ideas as many chalets propose local crafts and decorative items.
Kids may have the chance to give their christmas wish list directly to Santa Clauss or Père Noël as we say in France. On top of that, this year’s market includes an outdoor ice rink.
Lyon Christmas Market – Carnot square (Subway A Perrache / Tramway T1, T2 Perrache).
Closes at 7pm during the festival of Lights.
Alternative Luxurious Market for gourmets and DIY fans at Lyon Métropole Hotel
Looking for an alternative, off-the-beaten track upscale but free christmas market? Try the original more intimate temporary christmas market happening at the Lyon Métropole Hotel in Lyon 4th district during the Festival of Lights.
As unbelievable as it might sound, visitors can either get a free massage, customized christmas candles or enjoy a culinary experience.
Gourmets are invited to taste oysters and French Foie gras, attend a food and wine workshop led by David Delsart, Michelin-starred chef of La Villa Florentine and Gaëtan Bouvier, who was awarded as France’s Best Sommelier in 2016.
Alternative (upscale) Christmas Market – 85 Quai Joseph Gillet –Lyon Métropole Hotel
Bus 40 Stop Lyon Plage (15 minutes from Bellecour). Opens from noon to 8pm (December 6-10).
Ferris Wheel Ride on Bellecour square
What better spot than Lyon’s great wheel to enjoy panoramic views of France’s other “City of lights” while having fun with friends, family or the love of your life?
If you are an amateur photographer or if you are in a romantic state of mind, come when the sun is about to set.
Bring warm clothing in case you may have to wait for a while in the line. Feel-like temperatures are likely to be lower in the air.
Riders can see the Fourviere Basilica, the Croix Rousse Hill and the city’s peninsula and its famous crowded shopping street Rue de la République on one side and the Antonin Poncet square, leading to the Rhone river, on the other side.
Lyon ferris wheel – Bellecour Square – Openings: 11am-10pm (11pm on December 8, 9)
Fares: 9 euros (6 euros for children).
Mini Festival of Lights at Lyon’s Mini World Park
Mini World is the only world where the Lyon men’s soccer team are the winners the European Champions league!
France’s largest animated miniature park (3 000 m²) immerses visitors into three small different but familiar worlds: city, countryside and mountains.
Mini-inhabitants, vehicles, trains, railways, trees and animals are constantly created not to mention LEDs and electrical wires.
It’s a fascinating experience for kids and families. Don’t miss the hourly mini Festival of lights: an illumination of monuments and buildings made by several artists of the real world’s Festival of Lights.
It’s a forestate of what the public is going to see by late 2018 when the miniature park will inaugurate a fourth world dedicated to Lyon.
You don’t have to wait for the next festival to see the Lego bricks’ temporary exhibit featuring famous cult film scenes, animated movies, Marvel and DC comics superheroes.
Mini World Park – Carré de Soie Shopping Mall , Subway A Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie (20 minutes from Bellecour), Tramway T3 Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie (15 minute from Part Dieu train station).
Non-dated ticket: 16 Euros (4-12-year-old children: 10 Euros). Non-refundable dated ticket: 13 euros (4-12-year-old children: 8 Euros).
Opening Hours: 11am-6pm (7pm on December 9-10). Family package: 37 Euros.
Guided tours in Lyon
Croix-Rousse Silk and Traboules Tour
Lyon’s economic development in the 19th century had a lot to do with the silk industry which shaped the city’s history through a famous uprising among its workers.
The festival of Lights is an opportunity for first-time visitors to discover this local heritage.
The Maison des Canuts proposes guided tours of a silk workshop on Croix Rousse Hill with demos made on an old Jacquard weaving loom followed by a visit of Croix Rousse’s secret passageways known as traboules.
La Maison des Canuts – 10-12 Rue d’Ivry – Lyon 4 – Subway C Croix-Rousse.
Guided tours on December 7-10 at 11 am and 3.30pm.
7/12 Euros (4/7 Euros for school goers and students under 26-year-old, Free under 11-year-old).
Unusual Guided Tour of Croix Rousse with Cybele
Cybele Tours is also proposing a visit of the charming Croix Rousse neighborhood but in a very different and unconventional way.
If you easily get bored by traditional guided tours, you are going to be surprised and sometimes challenged as the company’s city tours are all based on street plays and interactions with the audience.
Visitors are transported back in 1831 in the heart of the Canut Rebellion as the comedian-guide tells a fictional story of a silk worker and his apprentice inspired by real characters. If only History teachers were that good!
Croix Rousse Unusual guided tour (1h15)– December 9-10 – 10.30am, 1.30pm – 8-year-old and older.
12 Euros – Meeting point : 51, rue du Bon pasteur (Subway C Croix-Rousse).
Unusual English tours are proposed all year long in Croix-Rousse and others historical districts.
Music events during Lyon Festival of Lights
Electro Clubbing with Courtesy
This year’s festival of Lights ends in a blaze of glory with a big electro party featuring Courtesy. The famous eclectic Danish DJ, one of the recent electro revelations, will perform for the first time in Lyon on December 9 at the Terminal Club.
The International artist who mixes in the world’s top nightclubs from Berlin to London, Barcelona, Amsterdam or Sao Paulo is joined by DJ Milena, a French talent well-known by local all-nighters.
Electro Clubbing Party featuring Courtesy – December 9 – Midnight – Terminal Club 3, Rue Terme, Lyon 1 – Subway A, C Hotel de Ville (or C Croix-Paquet)
“Hardcore Party” at the Rock n’ Eat Bar
Ready to rock? Two UK bands are performing in Lyon on December 7th for a hardcore beatdown party at the Rock n’ Eat beer, food and live music venue located in Lyon 9th district.
The first stop of a 3-night tour in Europe mainland for Resist and Exemption, two young hardcore bands with metal influences coming from Huddersfield, a northern British city between Manchester and Leeds. Self Esteem, a local band, will also be there.
Rock n’ Eat – 32, Quai Arloing, Lyon 9 – Subway D Valmy (15 min from Bellecour), Bus lines 2, 19, 31, 45 et C14 Stop Pont Koënig R.D
December 7 – 8pm (bar opens at 4pm).
Night Tour in Lyon Tete d’or Park’s Tropical Forest
Lyon’s Botanic gardens proposes a nigh-time visit of Tete d’Or Park and its tropical species on December 8th.
The unusual tour should make nature lovers and Sunday afternoon hikers thrilled. Flashlights are provided to make the best of the experience and find your way out of the park so you don’t miss any of the festival’ light and sound shows.
Lyon Botanic Gardens – night tour – Tete d’Or Park – December 8 – 5.30pm-7pm.
6 Euros (Free for kids under 12-year-old) – Subway A Masséna – Bus C1 stop Parc Tête d’Or/Churchill . Online reservation required
Join a Local Telethon event, France’s Annual Charity Effort
Solidarity and generosity has always been at the core of Lyon’s Festival of Lights reinforced by the Lumignons du Coeur’s initiative which invites locals to buy one of the candle lights they put on their home window sills on December 8th to support a charity group.
This caring spirit gets even stronger when the festival happens during France’s largest charity fundraising campaign, the Telethon.
You can join a flash mob on December 9 in Monplaisir near the Lumière Institute, buy food and hot drinks while watching sport and artistic performances and listening to public readings.
If you are gourmet enough, you would rather go to the Point-du-Jour neighborhood in the 5th district to get honey and salted butter caramel pots, enjoy a well-deserved sauerkraut, a perfect winter dish, or play darts.
If you live or stay on Croix Rousse hill, December 8 is the day to go to the Jolivet bakery to buy a French brioche.
Find a community action near you
Five museums and exhibitions to discover in Lyon’s museums in December.