The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) in Lyon

The rabbit in the moon, one of the flagship installations of the 2021 edition of the Fête des Lumières, on the Place des Terreaux in Lyon.

A veritable institution, the Festival of Lights is an opportunity to admire the city of Lyon in a new, artistic and festive light, and to plunge into the enchantment of Christmas. While we wait to discover the programme for the next edition, from 7 to 10 December 2023, let's take a look back at the 2022 edition and the history of the festival.

Every year for almost 30 years, at the beginning of December, the city of Lyon is set ablaze in an explosion of colour and light. The streets, squares and facades of emblematic monuments as well as urban parks welcome artistic installations created by local and international lighting designers, visual artists and other video artists.Before we find out what's on the programme for 2023, let's take a look back at the shows that have lit up the city.

Poetry, creativity and sobriety

In a context where incentives to save energy are multiplying, the Festival of Lights is going for sobriety with the massive use of LED lighting. As every year, the essential installations illuminate the Place des Terreaux, the Place Bellecour, the Place des Jacobins, the Saint-Jean cathedral, in the Vieux-Lyon and also the Parc de la Tête d'Or. A green lung with 117 hectares of nature in the heart of France's third largest city, the park is hosting four installations this year, including the projection of geometric shapes on the trees along the lake and the presence of fireflies on the lawns. To raise awareness of climate change among the 2 million or so visitors expected, a light and music installation presents the environmental data of the Lyon metropolis (air quality, noise pollution, cycling and soft mobility) in an artistic way.

Look out for the programme for the next Fête des lumières in autumn 2023.

A secular tradition

The Festival of Lights originated in 1643, when the city implored the Virgin Mary to protect it from the plague, promising to honour her with the construction of a statue on the top of Fourvière hill. Two hundred years later, on 8 December 1852, when the inauguration of the statue was compromised by inclement weather, the sky miraculously cleared. To thank the Virgin Mary, the people of Lyon lit up their windows with thousands of candles called lumignons. The Festival of Lights was born.

Coeur de Lyon (Heart of Lyon)

Fete des Lumières - les lumignons du coeur - place des Jacobins©Muriel Chaulet/Ville de Lyon - Charity operation Les Lumignons du Coeur, organised at Place des Jacobins, Lyon, during the Fête des lumières.

The original tradition of lighting candles on 8 December is also at the heart of the Fête des lumières with the participative project "Les Lumignons du Coeur (External link) ". The principle is simple: perform an act of solidarity by buying one or more Lumignons du Cœur for 2€. All donations collected are distributed to a designated charity before the festivities. In 2022, the profits will be donated to the Salvation Army Foundation. So go to the Parc de la Tête d'Or rose garden to buy one or more candles.

Also read:

Lyon: 8 steps for a night out in the city of lights

Replay the best moments of the 2021 edition of the Fête des lumières :


Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 December 2023 (8pm to midnight)
In the streets, in the plazas, and on the façades of the city's monuments of Lyon


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