As long as I’ve known about the beautiful light shows called the Fete des Lumieres that Lyon puts on each year around the 8th of December, I’ve wanted to go there and see it. We finally got around to actually going this year, staying in Lyon from Dec. 5th to 8th.
Since the festival is so well attended, it takes planning to get lodging and meals during the time that 3+ million or so tourists descend on the town. So I booked a hotel room in May and started planning a pre-Christmas trip around the Fete. We spent 12 days total—4 each in Lyon, Strasbourg and Paris—and had a terrific, magical time. More about the other destinations, about Lyon, its markets and old-fashioned Bouchons in future posts.
The Lyon Fete des Lumieres has a long history and is designed to honor the Virgin Mary. Read more about its origins at the history page of the festival’s website http://www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en/page/history and by searching on the title Fete des Lumieres in Wikipedia. In the recent past the Fete has escalated from a simple observance of the occasion with candles lit in windows to a sound and light extravaganza showcasing the lovely architecture of Lyon and even more recently to artistic lighted installations mostly designed to enchant the many people who come to walk about the city to see them.
It all caught my eye a few years ago with some pictures and video I saw on-line. Already predisposed to love the city (and especially the wonderful old Bouchons—restaurants– of Lyon) from previous trips there, I became determined to see the Fete for myself rather than just view pictures on-line.
The 2014 Fete
As close I could tell from the literature about the Fete distributed by Lyon’s excellent tourist office, the city hosted 68 or 70 separate light installations, 40 of which were deemed of sufficient impact (and closeness to the city center) to merit pictures in the tourist office brochures and 13 of which we actually made it to view personally. Alas, two of the most spectacular—in the Place Des Terreaux and the Cathedrale Saint-Jean—were beyond our ability to cope with the enormous crowds. Nonetheless, what we saw was terrific and I recommend the Fete and the city that hosts it highly.
These are some of the pictures Val and I captured from the Fete. I almost hesitate to post them since they are not our best, nor the best representation of the Fete. Nonetheless here they are:
The above pictures were of the installation entitled Color Fantasies on the Place Celestins.
These eerie creatures were called Winter Garden in the Parc De La Tete d’Or. The spheres on the ground were like snow globes
We could view this installation right out our hotel window
This installation called “the Night Light of the Jacobins” in the Place Des Jacobins used the sculpture in the center of the Place as the base of the enormous lamp which rotated sweet images on the surrounding buildings as nursery music played. Quite relaxing.
Entitled “Flickering” this installation on the Rue de La Republique was somewhat more like the Christmas light displays one finds in lots of large cities.
In the enormous Place Bellecour, the installation “Dreams of Night” projected images on the center of the equally enormous Ferris wheel at the edge of the Place.
The Palace of Justice was lighted in a rainbow of alternating colors, beautiful when viewed from across the river Soane
For a better representation of what was available to see at the Fete, here is the official website of the Fete and some links to video taken by others among the hordes who accompanied us at the Fete. I especially encourage you to take a look at two of the videos listed on the right side of the page re: Place des Terreaux at 8:26 amd Cathedrale St. Jean at 6:54 minutes each. These are the two installations we just couldn’t brave the crowds to get to. I’m so sorry we didn’t persist. They look spectacular. Well, maybe next time……