The Festival of Lights, Lyon

Last updated 9th June 2017

Why go?

From 6-9 December, millions of people will flock to Lyon for what is one of the country’s biggest cultural events, the Fête des Lumières or Festival of Lights. Over 70 installations designed by world-renowned artists will flash and flare in the streets, project on to buildings and float overhead creating a rainbow of colours across the city. Meanwhile, on ground level, a Mexican-inspired parade, with giant puppets, actors and circus acrobats will add to the surreal but rather magical experience. 


All this fuels the already thriving culinary scene. In a country known for its food, Lyon still manages to stand outand there is an element of truth in the locals’ claim that its restaurants are finer than those in Paris. But if you can’t imagine the troops sitting through a three let alone six- course dinner, head instead to the multitude of street stalls and ‘bouchons’ (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants) serving good solid French dishes, like sausages, terrines, pâtés and roasts.

The history

It is surprising perhaps that such a lively and futuristic event has such a dark origin dating back all the way to 1643. During the outbreak of the plague, when the city was struck down with the disease, the council promised to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary should she save them. They were spared, and on 8 December every year candles were lit and offerings made in her name. This more subtle tradition still remains, alongside the more extravagant and vibrant offering of the Fête.  

The lowdown

Getting there: Flights to Lyon during the Festival start from just £47 one way with easyJet.

Accommodation: Stay at the cool and arty Mama Shelter Hotel (pictured above right) from €129 for a double room, or the boutique Collège Hotel (pictured above left) from €125 per night.