December 2, 2014

Lyon's Festival of Lights, or Fête des Lumières , is an annual celebration that occurs between 5th and 8th December, attracting thousands of visitors from right around the world. There are a handful of different accounts as to how this fantastic light show began, but each of them ends the same way, with locals lighting candles on their windowsills in tribute to the Virgin Mary, a tradition that continues even to this day. 

On top of the traditional candles, nowadays the festival welcomes artists from across the globe, who create breathtaking light shows for the people of Lyon. The shows feature right across the city, from projections on the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and Place des Terreaux, to light instalments in the local parks. To get you excited for your next trip across the channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle , I've put together a list of my top five light exhibits to check-out at this year's Festival of Lights.

 Lyon-festival-of-lights-candles image
Locals leave candles on their window-sills in honour of the Virgin Mary

Winter Garden

Designed by artist Christophe Martine, the Winter Garden is a whimsical light creation, filled with fairy-like elements and blossoming flowers, which individually light up inside pink-tinted crystal green houses. Wander around Parc de la Tête d'Or after dark, and take in the peacefulness and wonder that is simultaneously evoked from this charming exhibit.

 Lyon-festival-of-lights-plantes image
Jardin des Plantes of 2011

Galactic Platform

This space-like light creation, designed by Derrick Giscloux, is a ceiling of fluorescent green, pink and yellow wires stretched up above the central square of Place Chazette. Visitors can walk around beneath it, looking up at this luminous 'platform', awaiting the imminent landing of something from outer space.


Created by Héléne Richard and Jean-Michel Quesne, the ever-changing light show of Anamorphosis is a popular choice for visitors, and is presented at a great location, the Tunnel Modes Doux. Stroll through the tunnel, between the rivers Rhône and Saône, and admire the juxtaposition of images, from reality and city life to dream-like visions of swirling colours and patterns. It's a brilliant light show to get lost in.

 Lyon-festival-of-lights-comedie image
Place de la Comédie, 2011

Color or Not

If you like to think "the bigger, the better", then be sure to pay a visit to Color or Not , a projected light performance on the Cathedral Saint-Jean, by the artist, Yves Moreaux. A range of spectacular lights and images are displayed onto the outside of the cathedral, using the movement of light with theatrical music to tell a story.  From disappearing sand to blooming flowers and ivy, it's a tremendous show you shouldn't miss during your trip.

Urban Oasis

Urban Oasis was designed by the creative association, BULB, and reveals a transformation of the usual features in Place Bir Hakeim. Once a normal park, the outdoor space is rejuvenated and lit up with vibrant and fluorescent pink, blue, yellow, orange, green and red ornaments, such as flowers and trees. This exotic piece of paradise is the perfect exhibit to enjoy at the end of your light tour; it's a place to simply unwind and relax.

Can't wait to explore the Festival of Lights?

It only takes 35-minutes from the UK to France via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, making your journey to the city of lights that little bit easier. So, all you have to worry about now, is which of the shows you'll be seeing first!

Photo Credits:
Jardin des Plantes of 2011 © Clara Giraud
Place de la Comédie, 2011 © Clara Giraud
Cathedral of St. Jean © P. Warrener
Candles on window-sills © Myrabella

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