Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières)

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on October 29th, 2012

photo courtesy of Sylvain Bourdos, flickr creative commons

About Lyon, France

A vibrant history, delightful cuisine and wine, and one of the most illustrious light festivals in the world radiates from the lovely city of Lyon. Nestled in amongst the foothills of the Rhône-Alpes region, its historic center is situated on a strip of land where the Seine and Rhône Rivers converge. France’s third largest city is often hailed as the Capital of Lights, a title Lyon has earned from its annual Fete des Luminaires (Festival of Lights). All of this is made possible by the French metropolis‚ a state of the art illuminative infrastructure, which tastefully and efficiently keeps the cobblestone streets and plazas aglow once the sun has dipped below the horizon.

History of the Festival of Lights

September 8th 1852, Lyon planned to celebrate and present the community with a statue of the Virgin Mary. It had been commissioned to be placed next to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which is perched on a hill overlooking the city. The much anticipated festivities were postponed when the Sa√¥ne River flooded. It was thought the event would be washed out once again on the rescheduled date of December 8th, 1852 when rain storms shrouded Lyon early in the morning. Everyone was ready to accept the ceremony’s cancellation, but the evening sky decided to unexpectedly clear. Overjoyed, the people of Lyon illuminated their windows with candles and took to the streets in a spur of the moment decision to revive the event. As the public merrily marched towards the statue, the church also spontaneously resurrected their original plans to illuminate the monument. Since then, each year Lyon has commemorated the occasion.

Festival of Lights Today

In 1989, technology brought the Festival of Lights to a whole new level with the introduction of a modernized lighting system.  The lights were further updated in 2004. Now a 4 day celebration (December 8th – December 11th of each year), the festival is popular among residents who faithfully continue to honor the tradition by placing votive candles in their windows. The streets and plazas have become quite the spectacle to be seen. When the sun sets, downtown Lyon transforms into a light show extravaganza with elaborately dressed street performers, high-res images and video projections, a kaleidoscope of LED lights illuminating architectural structures, sculpture-like lanterns beckoning attention, and much, much more.

Lyon’s Electric Bill

One would think that an event centered on light would burn through massive amounts of electricity, but the Festival of Lights electric consumption is astonishingly low. In 2009 the utility bill for the city center was €3,300, and this amounts for a modest 0.1% of Lyon’s annual lighting costs. LED bulbs are used, and they are then recycled once the celebrations have concluded.

Purchase Airfare to Lyon Now

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your flights to Lyon, as this extremely popular event draws 4 million spectators yearly. Call 1-800-FlyEurope and reserve your airfare today.

photo courtesy of Lludo, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of winter d’adulescent, flickr creative commons


photo courtesy of z_aurelie, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of z_aurelie, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of Anne Varak, flickr creative commons

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Written by 1800FlyEurope

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