Lyon’s Festival of Lights is one of the most important fixtures in the French cultural calendar. Brightening up the streets with luminous displays and generating an electric atmosphere across the city, it’s a long weekend of magic – and all events are free.
It’s one of the highlights of the French winter and offers travellers a spectacular way to see Lyon, which already boasts more than its fair share of cultural attractions!
For three nights from Dec 8th-10th 2016, artists will be lighting up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city.
Where Tradition meets Urbanism
The Festival of Lights evolved from the traditional December 8th holiday, where Lyon residents celebrate the Virgin Mary, whose statue stands on the Fourvière hill, overlooking the city. Locals put candle lamps on their window sills and balconies and go for evening strolls across the city.
Since 1889, the “Fête des Lumières” has evolved into a spectacular urban event and has become a major design showcase hosting artists from across the world.
What you should see
Each of the four nights has a different theme, evolving colour schemes and an extraordinary atmosphere. Designers from all over the world compete to produce electrifying displays, and many shows will be highlighted by interactive video, music and sound effects.
With over 4 million tourists coming to Lyon for this event, the peak day occurs on the 8th. The two main focal points are usually the Basilica of Fourvière and the Place des Terreaux, which hosts a different light show each year.
Lyon at night
Like all light festivals, it’s after dark that really showcases Lyon’s architectural heritage, with projections turning landmarks into incredible works of art. Visitors will be dazzled by the lasers, videos, and riotous fireworks on display.
Save money with a Lyon Card
If you want to make the most of the city, then buy a Lyon City Card when you arrive. It’s perfect if you’re on a budget and want to explore the museums and attractions during the festival. The card includes unlimited access to 22 of the most prestigious museums in and around Lyon.
Make sure to check out Place Bellecour, the gorgeous Palais de Justice and the Théâtre des Célestins, and go for a romantic stroll across the Saône River.
Where to stay in Lyon
The city’s budget options fill up fast for the festival. Best to get booking early – and if you book advance then you’ll be able to stay for less than €20 per night. Find out where you can stay here and make sure you see the light this December.