top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Lyon's Fête des Lumières lightshows revealed

Some of the stunning displays that will grace the annual event taking place across the city in early December unveiled

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.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France