The Festival of Lights is an institution in Lyon and an opportunity to (re)discover the city in a new festive, artful light. It’s a good taste of Christmas magic just days before holiday celebrations begin.
At the beginning of December every year for nearly 30 years, the city of Lyon is consumed by lights and color. The streets, squares, and facades of key monuments become home to artistic installations designed by lighting designers, videographers, and other visual artists.
The 2018 edition features a rich program with some 80 installations conjuring a mix of emotions, dreams, art, and technology. For instance, “Abyss” by Nicolas Paolozzi, installed at Place Louis Pradel, is an interactive light structure of a deep ocean creature, which visitors can control through two interactive terminals.
The facade of the Saint-Jean Cathedral is adorned with a bit of poetry, a project by the Ocubo duo in the shape of a contemplative fresco blending flowers with various pigments. Full of textures, shapes, and colors, this installation combines artistic performance and technical prowess. Next to the famous Place Bellecour, visitors at Place Antonin Poncet are invited to make a wish with “Wish Blow,” a modular, interactive installation created by Helen Eastwood and Laurent Brun. Just blow on the work to create a magical cascade of light bubbles.
Tête d'Or Park hosts "Présages," a show created by Marie-Jeanne Gauthé and Géraud Périole. The park has been transformed into a wonderful world of gold and glitter, a beautiful, carefree universe with a mysterious air threatening to disrupt the dreamlike harmony.
A Grand Tradition
The Festival of Lights originated in 1643, when the city implored the Virgin Mary to protect it from the plague, promising to honor her with a statue at the top of Fourvière Hill. Two hundred years later, on Dec 8, 1852, this statue was to be inaugurated, yet horrible weather conditions threatened the event. The sky miraculously cleared just at the right moment, and the people of Lyon placed thousands of candles in their windows to thank the Virgin Mary. They have been doing so ever since, and thus the Festival of Lights was born.