From the 5th to the 8th of December 2019 in Lyon, your evenings will shine brighter than your days!
Last updated date : 09/12/2019
Combining popular traditions with technological innovations, the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) is a major event in Lyon! Each year, in the creative hub that is Lyon, young lighting designers are invited to create their installations, which are then exported around the world. A totally unique concept!
Immerse yourself in this major celebration that is free and open to all! This year once again, Lyon will be lit up for four consecutive nights. It promises strong emotions, poetry and spectacular magic, with a number of routes to take you across the city.
Each evening, starting at 7 pm (Thursday and Sunday) or at 8 pm (Friday and Saturday), take a stroll through the centre of Lyon, which is transformed by lights and the imaginations of designers from around the world. The Festival of Lights highlights the town's outstanding architectural heritage, its rivers and its main monuments and places through a combination of 65 attractions with illuminations, including videos, lasers and LEDs, as well as sound and performing arts. Explore the Presqu'île district in the city centre, as well as Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon) and Fourvière, where the most spectacular attractions can be found, or the slopes of Croix-Rousse hill where the installations are more intimate and often participative. The event programme in the city centre is identical for all four evenings.
The Festival of Lights was originally a religious festival and is also about showing generosity. Each year, a charity organisation is invited to take part in the “Lumignons du Cœur” campaign: buy a lumignon (small lantern) and make your contribution to the huge lit fresco on the site of the ancient Odeon of Fourvière on the 8th of December. The money raised will be donated entirely to the organisation (which is different each year). This year, profits will be donated to the association APF France Handicap.
Remember to dress warmly! Happy Fête des Lumières!
Our 2019 recommendations
The recently renovated Place des Terreaux has regained its splendour. It is welcoming a beautiful work, featuring animated images that put the spotlight on the people working behind the scenes. Poetic and spectacular, it covers all of the square’s facades, revealing and enhancing its architectural features. Further information
The courtyard of the nearby Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) is welcoming an immersive sound and light installation, which creates an underwater world inspired by the mythical sunken city of Ys, opening out onto the Opera House lit up in blue. Further information
Fourvière Hill and the banks of the Saône are welcoming a monumental work by Philippe Cotten: a poetic story, with an ecological message, in which giants of light gather clouds and transform them into water to sprinkle over a little flower. The work covers the entire hillside, from Notre Dame Basilica at the top, to the banks below, including the Palais de Justice and the chevet of the cathedral. Further information
Saint-Jean Cathedral is always spectacular and this year is no exception. The light and sound installation ‘Genesis’ retraces the creation of humanity and its evolution through the ages, including major inventions, right up to the digital age. This magnificent work asks questions about the future, while highlighting the building’s architectural style with its lighting design.Further information
Place Bellecour This is the fruit of collaboration between two artist collectives: ‘TILT’ and ‘Porté par le vent’, which is behind the creation of this dreamlike and immersive installation. Place Bellecour is greened, becoming a garden planted with 500 pampas plants, and inhabited by imaginary creatures, named ‘Luminéoles’, floating overhead… Further information
Place des Jacobins is welcoming a very innovative light and sound installation, featuring lasers projected from the fountain. Evoking water, with its life-giving and destructive power, it creates an immersive and disturbing world. Further information
On Place des Célestins, a cloud is formed of moving light particles, which concentrate on an object until they reach bursting point, scattering over the facades of the buildings and the greenery lining the square. Further information
The Cour du Midi at the Grand Hôtel-Dieu is welcoming a very contemporary work, featuring a ballet of robots holding light sticks swathed in mist. A futuristic and amazing experience. Further information
Place de la République is welcoming the ‘Lumignons du coeur’, with a light installation that reproduces the facades of the buildings along the river banks, including 1200 windows adorned with 5000 lumignons (small lanterns that the people of Lyon place in their windows during the festival). The water of the fountain will be decorated with a tree of mirrors reflecting 120 floating lumignons, to celebrate this beautiful local tradition. Further information
Take a stroll along the banks of the Saône, to see the parade of the “giants of light”, accompanied by some amazing drumming puppets. A lively and rhythmic show. Further information
At the northern end of Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon), Saint-Paul station is the canvas for a “light painting”, a daydream on the theme of travel and the disenchantment of the world, inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. Offering several levels of interpretation, this installation gives a view of the world without being judgemental. Further information
Inhabited by luminous insects, the route along the banks of the Rhône to Tête d’Or Park features sound installations, greenery and poetry. Further information
At the park, one of the most beautiful installations of the Fête des Lumières, created by ‘Groupe F’, offers a chance to contemplate the beauty of the world, in a sonic environment, featuring life in the seas, in the trees (evoking migrations and the close relationship between humans and primates) and on the ground, a refuge. This fascinating 20-minute show asks the following question: When you see the beauty of the world, do you not want to preserve it? Further information
Lastly, on Sunday the 8th of December, the evening on which the people of Lyon place lumignons (small lanterns) in their windows, take a stroll along the banks of the Saône, which becomes a “River of Lights” from 7 pm onwards. 20,000 miniature boats, each carrying a lumignon, and your wishes, will float down the river like a procession, between the bridges of Saint Vincent and Saint-Paul. Further information
You can then see the amazing luminous giant statues holding up the piers of Bonaparte bridge against the rising waters, illustrating the fragility of constructions in the face of the elements. They will be present one week before the beginning of the festival to set the mood. Further information
Isabelle, our editor born and bred in Lyon! She was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon in fact, studied in Lyon and now lives here. Territorial? Absolutely not! She loves travelling, widening her horizons, meeting new people and enjoys a change of scenery (without snow, if possible). Isabelle is curious and a people person, two attributes that often go hand in hand! Her favourite colour is green and her motto "a day without laughter is a day wasted!"