LYON FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
8 DECEMBER: AN ICONIC LYON EVENT
from 7 to 10 December 2023
Every year, in early December, Lyon (Rhône), the ‘City of Lights’, transforms into a free, open-air light show, with magnificent installations and breathtaking shows dotted around the city.
Lyon’s Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) is more than just an event; it has become a sensory, cultural and emotive experience that attracts millions of visitors each year. Prepare to be amazed by this unforgettable experience.
PROGRAMME FOR 2023
DATES AND TIMES OF THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 2023
This year, the Festival of Lights will be taking place
– from Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 December from 7pm to 11pm
– on Sunday 10 December from 6pm to 10pm.
WHAT ARE THE MUST-SEES OF THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS?
Here’s the ideal itinerary to make sure you don’t miss a thing:
- From 7pm: Head to Lyon’s old town, Vieux Lyon, wander along the picturesque streets and take in the light installations on Saint-Jean Cathedral.
- Next stop Place Bellecour to see the light shows projected onto the square’s buildings and the lit-up Ferris wheel.
- Take Rue de la République, visit Place des Jacobins, Place des Célestins and the Grand Hôtel-Dieu.
- Then continue with Place Louis-Pradel by the Lyon opera house, the Hôtel de Ville and Place des Terreaux, a favourite of ours: the shows there are always spectacular.
- To finish off your evening, go to the banks of the Saône to admire the light installations on the Palais de Justice and get a stunning view of the Fourvière basilica.
A GREAT FAMILY ACTIVITY ON 8 DECEMBER
Join the torchlight procession, which starts on the forecourt of Saint-Jean Cathedral around 6.30pm each year and makes its way to the Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, located at the top of Fourvière hill.
TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR VISIT
WHERE TO STAY IN LYON DURING THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
ACCOMMODATION AND CAMPING PITCHES FOR THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Are you coming to visit the beautiful city of Lyon to join the festivities on 8 December for the Festival of Lights? Choose Camping de Lyon for your accommodation!
Enjoy the comfort of a chalet, wooden trailer or mobile home to sleep up to 6 people.
A spacious living area, a kitchen, bedding and towels are included. All the comfort of a hotel room with the bonus of open space and nature all around you!
For a great value stay even closer to nature, opt for one of our camping pitches and stay in your camper van or motorhome on your trip to Lyon.
THE CENTRAL LODGE
After a busy day exploring the city, come and enjoy some time in our friendly and welcoming Central Lodge. Make use of the campsite bar, come and warm up with a tasty hot chocolate, or spend some quality time with friends or family around a board game or a table football match.
EASY TO GET AROUND WITH THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS CLOSE BY
PUBLIC TRANSPORT (TCL)
Our campsite is located very close to public transport links.
On Friday 8 December, transport run by Lyon public transport agency TCL is free from 4pm onwards.
– From 7 to 10 December – you can get special ‘TCL en Fête’ tickets at €3.50 each (unlimited journeys from 4pm onwards).
– Another option: 24h (€6.50), 48h (€12.50) or 72h (€17) tickets: unlimited journeys for the whole day.
– 24h family ticket (€6.50): unlimited journeys for the whole day.
– Lyon City Card: A pass for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days of transport and activities in Lyon.
Find out more at the campsite reception.
Car parks open during the Festival of Lights:
– Parking Opéra (Tholozan)
– Cordeliers (vehicles exit on Place des Cordeliers heading to Quai Jean Moulin)
– Gros Caillou (Croix-Rousse)
As well as the 24 TCL park-and-ride car parks open to users of the TCL transport network.
THE STORY AND MEANING BEHIND THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
According to popular legend, on 8 September 1643, the people of Lyon implored the Virgin Mary to protect Lyon from the devastation of the plague that was raging widely at that time. The city was indeed spared from the plague, and from that point forward an annual pilgrimage took place on 8 September as a symbol of their gratitude.
In 1850, the city’s religious authorities decided to organise a competition to create a statue of the Virgin Mary to express Lyon’s gratitude towards Mary for her protection. The sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch was chosen to make this statue, which was to be erected on Fourvière hill. The inauguration of the statue was originally planned for 8 September 1852, a symbolic date in the religious calendar. However, an unforeseen event disrupted the preparations. The Saône burst its banks and flooded the city of Lyon, forcing the authorities to postpone the inauguration to 8 December 1852.
When the day of the long-awaited inauguration arrived, bad weather once again threatened the festivities. The religious authorities considered cancelling the event due to the unfavourable weather conditions. However, to everyone’s surprise, the sky suddenly cleared. It was as though the sky itself was giving its approval of the inauguration of the statue. In a spontaneous gesture, the people of Lyon reacted by placing candles in their windows, lighting up the whole city. When night fell, Lyon was transformed into a sea of lights. The religious authorities quickly joined the action by lighting up the magnificent Fourvière basilica, creating a dazzling scene in the dark of the night.
This event marked the birth of the Fête des Lumières, which is now held every year on that same date, 8 December.
In 1989, the city council began lighting up the city’s most iconic monuments every 8 December. From 1999, the festival was extended to take place over a period of four days in December, becoming a major celebration in Lyon. Over the years, the light installations have become more and more spectacular – real artistic masterpieces designed by talented artists, lighting specialists, designers and renowned videographers. The Festival of Lights has become a key event for artists around the world, transforming Lyon into a leading hub for light art. It has become the biggest event dedicated to light in the world, attracting visitors from around the globe to celebrate the beauty of light and art in Lyon.
AN ENDURING TRADITION
On 8 December every year since 1852, the residents of Lyon have been lighting lumignons – little candles in glass holders – and placing them on their windowsills.
As it does every year, the festival is running the Lumignons du Cœur campaign to raise money for charity.
Get the full Festival of Lights experience and immerse yourself in Lyon tradition! Stay within a short distance of the magical atmosphere of the city centre and all its light installations while enjoying the peace and quiet of nature at Camping de Lyon, away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle.