Fête des Lumières

It’s wintertime here in Lyon! That means snow, lots of soup in my homestay, and the Fête des Lumières. The Fête des Lumières is a giant festival that happens in the beginning of December every year in Lyon. It draws millions of people from around France and around the world. It last for four days and features ~dazzling~ light shows in different parts of the city.

I went to check things out last night with a group of UC kids. We started in Bellecour, Lyon’s largest square, and made our way up through downtown, over the river to old Lyon, and back to the peninsula.

Each street in downtown has a different theme of hanging lights. There’s a street with floating hearts, one with a glowing cathedral, one with elaborate dangling flowers, and many more. Besides the hanging lights, there were several big light shows projected onto city landmarks. We made our way through a street lit up with big yellow bulbs to get to Place des Terreaux where the first light show was. It started with tiny pictures of the classic Lyonnais tea lights projected onto the faces of three buildings surrounding the square. They started swirling around, videos of dancers appeared on the buildings, things went wild. There were people doing acrobatics, lights flashing around in bunches of different colors, images of the moon and stars, all of which were projected onto these buildings.

After Place des Terreaux, we stopped in another little square to grab some December munchies – candied apples and tartiflette – then made our way to the St. Jean Cathedral in old Lyon for another light show. This one was my favorite. The face of the church has a lot of cool details like statues and stained glass that the light show highlighted in fun ways. There must have been hundreds of different displays that made the church look like it was covered in vines or tapestries or made of gold or melting etc etc etc.

The last light show was on the face of the old theater in downtown Lyon. This show was much more abstract with videos of paint being poured and mixed projected onto the building.

We finished up by strolling around and taking in more of the sights. The whole city was twinkling – and it’s not over! I still have three more nights of fun and lights. Tonight, I think I am going to check out the water show over at the Confluence (where Lyon’s two rivers meet) and look at the enchanted garden in Croix Rousse. Happy winter!

Charley Guptill