Festival of Lights
All the information about this unmissable event of Lyon!
Last updated date : 02/02/2024
When Lyon is dressed in lights, everybody comes down into the streets to take in the sights. The facades of the city’s most beautiful buildings spring to life under the lights of projectors and the people of Lyon take part by placing ‘lumignons’ (small lanterns) on their windowsills and balconies on the 8th of December. Playing out over four nights, Lyon’s greatest celebration awaits you!
Presentation of the Festival of Lights
4 evenings to shine!
From the tradional lumignons (small candles) which locals place on their balconies, to the various visual and interactive shows that are put on around the city, the Festival of Lights is an absolute must for anybody looking to discover Lyon.
Immerse yourself in this major celebration that is free and open to all!
The 2023 edition
In 2023, Lyon has decided to dazzle you even more than usual with a spectacular edition! This year, you will be able to explore 30 very different works: some grand and spectacular, and others more intimate; sometimes participative and always unexpected. They are born of the imaginations of both internationally acclaimed artists and young talents who are given a platform by the Festival of Lights.
Some of the installations will remain in place throughout the month of December. Elsewhere, activities and gatherings will be organised both before and after the four days of the festival.
Lastly, the festival wishes to involve children by providing suitable opening times, which will allow them to participate, as well as a well-researched book of games, which includes routes to follow and information about light and the main installations.
See you then from Thursday 7 December 2023, from 7pm to 11pm! The festivities will then take place on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 from 7pm to 11pm, and on Sunday 10 December from 6pm to 10pm.
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The origins of Lyon’s Festival of Lights
The story behind Lyon’s Festival of Lights
The origins of the Fête des Lumières go back to the inauguration of the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on Fourvière.
The inauguration was initially scheduled to take place on the 8th of September 1852, but was delayed until the 8th of December when the Saône broke its banks and flooded the workshop of the sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch.
When the big day arrived, heavy rains threatened the planned illuminations, but as evening came the skies cleared and the locals spontaneously placed small lanterns (known as ‘lumignons’) on their window sills – the ‘Fête des Illuminations’ was born!
This tradition has lived on and every 8th of December, the people of Lyon light up their windows and take to the streets to admire their beautifully lit city.
In 1999, the 8th of December became the ‘Fête des Lumières’ that we know and love.
It now lasts for four days and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Essential highlights of the festival
As you now know, the 8th of December is the date of the Festival of Lights. If you would like to experience the event in the most traditional fashion, follow the ‘montée aux flambeaux’, a procession that begins on the square in front of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral at around 6:30 pm each year, where people carry small lanterns up to Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica on top of the hill of the same name.
While you are free to explore the city as you please, there is a programme available, which includes suggested routes to make sure you don’t miss the highlights! Place des Terreaux, Place des Célestins, Place des jacobins, Grand hôtel-Dieu and Cathedral Saint-Jean are places that we recommend stopping at, as the shows there are always spectacular! Looking for ideas? Here are a few suggested routes.
Getting around during the Festival of Lights
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Around the Festival of Lights
If you come by car: car parks and traffic during the Festival of Lights
Do not hesitate to let your car in one of the 21 parc-and-ride and take the TCL public transportation.
The following car parks are open during the festival:
Bear in mind, however, that you will not be able to retrieve your vehicle until the end of the evening, at around 2 am.
• Indigo Tolozan (near Opera House)
• Gros Caillou
• Rozier (only for LPA subscribers)
• Saint-Just (except on 8 December)
Car park reserved for people with reduced mobility:
Car park provided on Rue du Garet. The parking spaces are between rue du Bat d'Argent and rue de L'Arbre Sec, accessible from quai Jean Moulin.
Car parks for tourist coaches during the Fête des Lumières
Car parks provided on : Quai Augagneur, Quai Sarrail, with additional parking possible on Quai Rambaud (on 10 and 11 December)
Along the Saône, between cours Bayard and Rue Dugas-Montbel.
How to get around on the TCL public transport network
First and foremost, to get around town, leave your car at home and use public transport!
During the festival, the metro (until 2 am from 8 to 10 December), tramway and specific bus lines will run more frequently.
Buses will not run in the city centre from 7 am (3 pm on Sunday) onwards, and the routes of some lines will be limited.
You can pay for and validate your tickets directly using your bank card.
On the 8th of December, public transport (Bus, metro, tram and funicular) is free from 4 pm until the end of the service.
On the other three days, from 9 to 11 December 2022, journeys will be unlimited from 4 pm until the end of the service with the ticket ‘TCL en fête’ priced at €3.30.
Long duration tickets: 24 hr (€6), 48 hr (€12) and 72 hr (€16.50)
Family ticket at €6: unlimited access for 2 to 5 people travelling together (with or without family ties), with a maximum of 2 adults and 3 children aged 4 to 17.
All information (tickets, park-and-ride, etc.) on www.tcl.fr/en
Ask for the flier ‘Destination Fête des Lumières avec TCL’ (Destination Festival of Lights with TCL) available in TCL branches and at the ONLYLYON Tourist office, Place Bellecour.
Where is the pedestrian area located?
The Festival of Lights is held in the city centre in a fully pedestrianised area, which is shut off and secure. Forty or so entrance points for pedestrians are located every 100 metres or so. The festival area will be closed to traffic. This restriction also applies to motorcycles, electric scooters and bicycles.
Only the following footbridges will be closed during the Fête des Lumières, on 8, 9 and 10 December from 6 pm to 1 am, and 11 December from 4 to 11 pm:
- Passerelle du Palais de Justice,
- Passerelle de l’Homme de la Roche,
- Passerelle Saint Vincent.
Where to find the programme?
You can consult the Festival of Lights programme on the festival’s website.
Also, you can pick up a paper version at the Lyon Tourist Office, at the information kiosks that are set up in the city centre during the event, as well as at ONLYLYON-certified receptions and members of the organisation My Presqu'île.
ONLYLYON tourist office on Place Bellecour: Extended opening hours during the 4 days of the festival of Lights: from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. non-stop on 7 to 9 December and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on 10 December 2023.
On the other days: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. non-stop.
- Place Louis Pradel (Lyon 1st)
- Place de la République (Lyon 2nd)
- Place Edouard Commette (Lyon 5th)
What are the dates and times of the Festival of Lights?
The Festival of Lights takes place on Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 December from 7pm to 11pm, and Sunday 10 December from 6 pm to 10 pm.
Note that the Tête d'Or park closes its gates half an hour before the end of each evening.
How can disabled people enjoy the festival?
For People with disabilities, you can find all the information you need on the Handi-Accueil page of the Festival of Lights’ website.
Where to take a gourmet break?
Remember to book a restaurant especially if you're a gourmet and want to dine at the time of your choice, and in your favourite restaurant!
This year, refreshment areas are being provided where you will find quality snacks: Place Bellecour, Parc Blandan, Les Subs and the garden of the Institut Lumière.
Where are the public toilets?
You can look up the location of public toilets in Lyon on the interactive map of the city.
Toilets adapted to people with a disability are located:
• Place Louis Pradel (1st district): underground Hôtel de Ville de Lyon (Lyon City hall) car park
• Place Rambaud (1st district)
Lieux divers - 69002 Lyon 2ème
04 72 10 30 30
I go by alternative transportation
24 park-and-ride facilities to get to the city centre; 4 metro lines.
Metro A or D stop Bellecour to be at the heart of the party.