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Festival of lights: a brillant array

Fête des Lumières 2021"Iris" sur la cathédrale Saint-Jean © Brice Robert
By Doriane
Published on 01/12/2023

The Festival of Lights is returning from the 7th to the 10th of december, when it will put a sparkle in Lyon cityscape ans spectator's eyes. To enjoy it to the full, at home or in the streets, here's a roundup of our favourite viewpoints and top tips. Let the celebration begin!


Tired of using the same old painted jars to make your lumignons (small candle lanterns)? Try the stylish alternatives created by illustrator Jane Besse, whose “BienVeilleuses” are decorated with the city’s landmarks, such as Part-Dieu, the Opera House, Bellecour and Fourvière...
€15 each

The "passe-partout" portable lamp

Dreamt up, manufactured and assembled just a few kilometres from Lyon, the portable lamp from Maison Polochon is an essential (and eco-responsible) companion to keep your tribe from getting separated in the dark.


What would the Festival of Lights be without its magical installations, millions of visitors and mulled wine? To carry your hot drinks and stay warm throughout the festivities, pick up one of these flasks designed in Lyon, made with stainless steel and cork.


If you’ve ever been to the Festival of Lights in freezing weather, you know that it’s a good idea to prepare one or two pairs of extra socks. Which ones? The socks made with Egyptian cotton by the Lyonnais brand Bonne Maison, of course!


Ready to light the fire? Try the large poplar wood matches with a printed box designed by The Cheerletter (see also page 48) for the Lyonnais scented candle brand La Belle Mèche.

Admire the view from...

  • The big wheel: place Bellecour, Lyon 2nd
  • The esplanade of Fourvière: Lyon 5th
  • Celest Bar et Restaurant: in the Tour Part-Dieu high-rise, Lyon 3rd
  • The banks of the Saône: Lyon 2nd
  • River cruises run by Les Bateaux Lyonnais

A bit of history...

In 1850, the religious authorities called for proposals to create a statue that would decorate the bell tower on Fourvière’s chapel. A gilded Virgin Mary statue was made by the sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch in his workshop on the banks of the Saône. Initially planned for the 8th of September 1852, the day of the Vœu des Échevins (“the municipal magistrates’ vows”), the inauguration was pushed back to the 8th of December of the same year due to flooding of the River Saône. As the big day approached, poor weather once again threatened the inauguration. The people of Lyon put candles on their window ledges, lighting up the city when night fell. The religious authorities joined in the movement and the chapel of Fourvière appeared in the night. Ever since, the people of Lyon have placed lumignons at their windows on the 8th of December each year.

Practical info

  • Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 December: 7 to 11 pm, Sunday 10 December: 6 to 10 pm.
  • Sergent-Blandan park (Lyon 7th) and the Place Abbé-Pierre (Lyon 9th): 5:30 to 9:30 pm on the four evenings of the Festival, with doors closing at 9 pm.
  • Manufacture des Tabacs - Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (Lyon 8th), 7 to 9 Decembre: 7 to 11 pm.

Good to know: funds collected this year from sales of Lumignons du Cœur, little candle glasses available at the Tourist Office on Place Bellecour and at Tête d’Or park, will be donated to Centre Léon Bérard (dedicated to cancer care and research), which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.

For further information, visit