Lyon Festival of lights
Every building in Lyon is illuminated during the magical Fêtes des Lumières as locals parade through the night, lantern in hand.
When the first evening begins to envelope the city, when Lyon is to be found in the streets and when night falls, an entire team holds its breath, its heart beats in unison. After months of work, everything will be played out over just a few hours. But this team is not alone. It knows that it can rely on the support of the people of Lyon, who play as big a part in the festival as the team itself.
The tradition dates from 1852, when a statue of the Virgin was unveiled on the hillside during a storm. Lyon's Festival of Lights takes place on 8 December during which the people of Lyon place little candle lamps in their windows in honour of the Virgin Mary. The origins of the festival date back over 150 years to 1852 when a statue of the Virgin Mary on Fourviere Hill was to be inaugurated. The event had been postponed several times and nearly didn't happen because a ferocious storm broke over the city. But it passed quickly and the people of Lyon spontaneously lit their homes with candles and came out into the streets to celebrate, and the Festival of Lights was born. The people of Lyon continue this visually spectacular tradition to this day. The modern festival is now a four-day event where contemporary light installations illuminate the city attracting thousands of visitors. As well as a time to celebrate, the festival also acts as a forum for communication with other cities in France and around the world where the issue of light in urban planning and town dwelling is discussed.
The hillside unveiling was originally planned for 8 September 1852, but had to be postponed due to bad weather. Rescheduled for 8 December, it was threatened again by an incipient storm. However, the clouds lifted and the population came out en masse to celebrate the occasion, armed with lights and lanterns in their thousands. Today, a host of activities are planned around the procession, which has now been extended to become an action-packed, four-day festival.
Forget technology, kilometres of cables, hours of meetings, procedures, simulations; let’s sweep aside briefings, erase debriefings, keep the behind-the-scenes behind closed doors and turn off the lights...in the office blocks. Let’s share these unique moments when Lyon reveals itself through the image sent back by its light, when we can experience together the most intimate of emotions in harmony.
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