What is the Fête des Lumières?
The Fête des Lumières is a world-renowned festival of lights that takes place annually in Lyon. Each year, millions of visitors flood to Lyon to see the light displays- more and more daring as the years go by- that adorn the city’s most famous sights.
Artists from all over the world come to the city to transform it into a magical, ephemeral universe.
The Fête des Lumières has been part of the community since 1852. Today, the festival remains as popular as ever amongst the Lyonnaise, who still light candles in their windows to mark the festival.
The first light shows took place on 8th December 1852. That day, Catholics were getting ready to place the bronze statue of the Virgin Mary on the bell tower of Fourvière church. But the event and fireworks were cancelled due to a storm. Despite this, the people of Lyon still lit candles in their window, and then took to the streets to admire other’s lights.
It was from the 90s that Lyon’s council began illuminating the city’s bridges and buildings, and ever since the show has become more and more extravagant.
Despite the cancellation of the festival in 2015 due to security concerns provoked by the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13th November 2015, the city has since restored the event to its full force.
When is the Lyon Lights Festival?
The Fête des Lumières will run from Thursday 6th December until Sunday 9th December. The displays will be open from 7pm until 11pm on Thursday and Sunday, and from 9pm until 12am on Friday and Saturday.
It’s fitting that the Fête des Lumières takes place on 8th December, as not only is this when the first festival of lights took place- even though that one was clearly much more low-key, with just a few candles in residents’ windows- rather, it is also the day of the Virgin Mary.
Where is the Fête des Lumières taking place?
This year, there will be nearly 80 light creations embellishing the city. The displays will be centred principally in the Presqu’île and Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), so districts 1, 2, and 5.
This year, the display at the Tête d’or park in the 6th district is back, and there will even be small displays in places such as Jean Macé train station, the airport, and Part-Dieu shopping centre.
An important note: there will be a security perimeter all the way around the festival (excluding, for example, the display at Jean Macé). There are around 40 points of entry for pedestrians from the security perimeter, but no cars or bikes will be allowed into the security perimeter whilst the festival is on. It will also be forbidden to park on many of the roads inside the security perimeter.