Nothing can prepare you for the excitement and the exhilaration of visiting the French city of Lyon during their annual Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in December.
Dating back to 1852, the Festival of Lights is an ancient traditional tribute to the Virgin Mary, part of a long-term promise when an outbreak of plague in the city ended in 1643. Municipal councillors promised to pay tribute to Mary if the town was spared and this religious tradition remains to this day.
So on 8th December, residents of Lyon commemorate the occasion with candles on their windowsills, along with other celebrations.
Over the years, however, this celebration has blossomed into a huge event featuring the very best in lighting technology – over 80 cutting edge lighting installations are scattered around the city, bringing the buildings and the city to life, attracting around over four million visitors every year.
Every part of the city is included within this light festival where the most innovative and original lighting effects and sculptures are used to great effect. Pick up a map of the city from your hotel and follow the illuminated highlights marked out on an easy walking route.
The city is packed to the rafters with fellow revellers who take pleasure in the many pop-up street-side food and wine stations. We started off with cocktails around 6.30pm and stayed meandering around the streets until 1am in the morning!
If you have a chance and can find a spare hotel room, I strongly recommend visiting the city for this spectacular lighting fest – I have seen nothing like this before – it’s spectacular.
This year’s Fête des Lumières takes place 6th – 9th December 2013. In 2012, we were guests of Rhône-Alpes Tourisme and stayed at the four star Grand Hotel des Terreaux most appropriately located on rue Lanterne!
Contributor and photographer: Sue Lowry
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