Lyon is one of my favourite cities, though it's often strangely overlooked as a city to visit. But not during the famous Festival of Light when the city takes on a surreal, and very different look. From December 6th to 9th, the city becomes a plaything, a magical stage set, a place of weird images and strange perspectives.
There is, of course, a famous legend behind the spectacle (isn't there always?). On December 8th, 1852, the brand-new, shiny golden statue of the Virgin Mary was finally installed on the mightly hill of Fourviere that looks over the city. And to mark what had been a very long delay, the good residents of Lyon put candles on their windows and balconies. From these small beginning sprang the Festival of Light.
The city gets pretty crowded during the Festival with over three million visitors who arrive to see the stunning art installations that play across the buildings and light up strange corners. The illuminations are all over town: from a magic cube in the place Bellecour to helium balloons in Place Gailleton accompanied by sounds, from flamingos in the Jardin des Plantes to the play of glorious pictures on fountains and facades.
You can wander at will, but it's best to get a map fron the tourist office, or download the program and map from the Lyon website. Follow a trail and it will take you to parts of Lyon you might not have seen before -- and you will never see in the same light again.
December 6th, 7th 6pm-12.30am
December 8th 6pm-1am
December 9th 6pm-11pm