Fête des Lumières in Lyon
Fête des lumières by Michel Guilly
The festival of lights is an annual occurrence in Lyon to give thanks to Mary (or Marie in French). As the town was struck by the plague in 1643, people prayed to Mary and promised that if she would spare the town they would pay tribute to her. Therefore ever since they have offered a tribute and led a procession up to the Basilica of Fourvière to honour the promise they made to her. Traditionally people would put out candles on their balconies or in their windows on December 8th to show their respect and gratitude. However over the years the tradition has developed into a world renowned festival celebrated over a whole four days to which thousands of people from many different countries flock to Lyon to see!The tradition has grown from simply lighting candles to one of the most extravagant light displays in the world. This was by far my favourite experience whilst living in Lyon and it truly was a spectacular time. The festival brings in loads of people each year who come from far and wide to see the “Fête des lumières” and it was practically impossible not to get excited as the city began to light up with all of the new faces and the buzz of anticipation!
The great thing about the festival of lights is that it was attended by every type of person and every age group. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a place where both young people and families were able to go and enjoy the ambience!
The city really goes all out for this festival and spends a lot of money making it bigger and better every year. No year is ever the same as they use different themes every year and often spend the rest of the year preparing for the next event, which clearly shows in the displays that they put on and the enormous influx of people that show up waiting for another masterpiece!
One of my major concerns before I went was about how safe it would be...however I quickly realised that it was fairly safe as there are plenty of police about making sure the event was under control – which definitely put my mind at ease! The presence of the police in the metro was also a plus as the amount of people using it had multiplied. However again they also had this under control and made it exceedingly efficient as they had designated specific routes and entrances so that there never a copious amount of people on the metro at any one time. Although make sure you plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination as it does add extra time to the journey!
If you are ever thinking about making a trip to see the festival of lights or even on your year abroad in Lyon, then this occasion is an absolute must! Trust me you won’t be disappointed as the whole city comes alive with a fantastic party atmosphere and general high spirits throughout Lyon.