Fête des Lumières

Welcome back everyone! This long-overdue blog will be about the world-famous light festival which takes places annually in Lyon known as Fête des Lumières. En avez-vous déjà entendu parler ?  Don’t worry if you’ve not as I’m going to tell you all about it. Il y aura beaucoup de photos pour vous aider à visualiser ce à quoi cela ressemble.

C’est parti !

Although La Fête des Lumières is not a Christmas festival, in many ways it does signal the beginning of the festive period in Lyon. L’incroyable spectacle de lumières a lieu chaque année autour du 8 décembre, la fête de 2021 se déroulant du 8 au 11 décembre. It is the world’s number one event for creative light projections which attracts approximately 4 million visitors to Lyon. L’accès à l’événement est gratuit et les routes de la ville sont fermées as the enchanting light spectacles span all across Lyon. L’atmosphère est vraiment magique.

Bien que généralement laïque aujourd’hui, la Fête des Lumières était à l’origine une célébration religieuse de la Vierge Marie. The history of the festival can be dated back to 1852. The inauguration due to take place of a statue of the Virgin Mary, created by Joseph-Hugues Fabisch, onto the chapel of Fourvière Basilica* had to be cancelled as the river Saône** broke its banks and flooded the sculptor’s workshops. In place of the festivities which were consequently cancelled, the locals placed « lumignons » (small candles) on their window ledges as a spontaneous sign of worship. Depuis lors, le 8 décembre est le jour des illuminations. The tradition of locals allumer des bougies has endured and evolved. Les magasins started to compete to put on the best light show, and the event has been growing ever since to the artistic festival of light which now takes place.

*Fourvière Basilica is the church you can see at the top of the hill

** The Saône is this river you can see in the picture. It is one of two rivers which flow through Lyon, can you remember the name of the other one?

During the festival there is a « Lumignons du Cœur » campaign, reflecting the religious roots of la Fête des Lumières which was about showing la générosité. For 2€, you could purchase a lumignon with the proceeds going towards une association caritative différente chaque année. The chosen charity this year was Gaelis, a federation of student associations and elected representatives. They promote les droits des étudiants and the 35,000€ de dons they received through la Fête des Lumières is being used to aider les étudiants en difficulté financière.

J’ai assisté au festival tous les soirs car il y avait tellement d’illuminations à voir ! C’était très cool de voir Lyon d’une manière différente de ce que j’avais vu auparavant. Il y avait une telle effervescence dans toute la ville. 

Tell me what you think in the comments!

Souhaitez-vous participer à la Fête des Lumières à l’avenir ?

Bibliography

Crouzet, Frédéric, “Lyon Festival Of Lights: How It All Began”, Thisislyon.Fr <https://thisislyon.fr/things-to-do/festivals/festival-of-lights/how-it-all-began/&gt; [Accessed 4 January 2022]

“THE STORY BEHIND THE FESTIVAL”, Fetedeslumieres.Lyon.Fr <https://www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en/page/story-behind-festival&gt; [Accessed 4 January 2022]

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