The displays for Lyon's ‘Fête des Lumières’ have just been revealed – and include 20,000 tiny illuminated boats sailing down the Saône.
The festival, now in its 30th year, will feature 65 light installations in a variety of buildings, streets, squares and parks.
Examples of what to expect include an illuminated meadow with 500 four-metre tall pampas grasses, 20,000 tiny illuminated boats which will sail down the river Saône, and a display of 15,000 candles lit every evening by 160 volunteers and residents.
The event is expected to draw millions of visitors from all over the world.
The festival’s origins date back to 1852, when it was decided that a statue of the Virgin Mary would be erected on Fourvière Hill in Lyon.
The initial inauguration of the statue was planned for September 8, 1852, but due to bad weather it was postponed to December 8 to coincide with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
However, the weather was bad again and the inauguration could not take place. As night fell the weather improved and the people of Lyon placed lit candles on their window sills and balconies in a show of solidarity. The tradition of lighting the city on December 8 has continued ever since.
In the 1960s, lighting candles morphed into a shop-window light display competition. In 1989, the festival as we know it today began when the city decided to illuminate heritage sites in the city.
The installations will take place over four nights, from December 5 to 8, and are free to visit. The displays take place on Thursday and Sunday from 19h to 23h and on Friday and Saturday from 20h to midnight.
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