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Lyon Fête des Lumières 2023 Guide in English

Updated: Nov 16, 2023



Lyon Festival of Lights Projections on the Fourviere Basilica and Saint George Cathedral in Lyon France.
The Fête des Lumières in Old Town Lyon in 2018

Before we dive in, if you're hungry, thirsty, and an awesome human, you may be interested in joining me for a highly intimate wine tasting before you go and explore the festival. We start at 2pm and finish around 5:30pm, from my neighborhood you can easily access the festival and actually go through a much easier checkpoint than if you were coming in from a different direction.





What is the Fête des Lumières in Lyon?


Lyon's annual winter Fête des Lumières is a four day festival around December 8th. Each year different artists create light installations all over the city, but mostly in the center of Lyon, including large projections over our most beautiful landmarks like the Saint George Cathedral and the Theatre Celestins.


It is a fun and festive time, and it is also crowded. The locals enjoy complaining about it, but still enjoy it. Both/and 🤷‍♀️


Dates: Thursday December 7th through Sunday the 10th 2023

Time: Night time

Price: Free

Requirements: Warm, dry clothes and shoes



History of Lyon's Fête des Lumières


The festival was invented on the 8th of December, 1852 to inaugurate the statue of the Virgin Mary at Fourvière. The inauguration was supposed to have been on September 8th, but rain postponed the ceremony. It rained again on December 8th but people showed up to with their lanterns lit anyway to pay homage to Mary.


Today the festival is a free, outdoor, often interactive art festival showcasing at least 40 large scale light installations across the city. It runs for 4 days. The people of Lyon still pay homage to Mary by lighting candles in their windows each night.



I think these are all from 2018
The Cathedral in Lyon during the Festival of Lights


How to prepare for the outdoor Festival of Lights


It may rain, as it did during the first festival. Be prepared in warm, dry clothes. It's crowded, so I would not recommend large umbrellas. Watch the forecast and use your judgement, then suit up. I will wear gloves, a hat, a scarf, ski socks, boots, my long winter parka, and probably long johns under my jeans. If I think it'll rain I'll bring a small umbrella.



Common Questions About Lyon's Festival of Lights


Where should I stay during the Fête des Lumières?


Check out my Lyon neighborhood guide, and my super handy guide to Lyon's best hotels.


How do I participate in Lyon's Festival of Lights?


Just go outside and walk around once it's dark out. It ends at midnight from Thursday through Saturday, and at 10pm on Sunday. In the Presqu'île there is a perimeter where you will go through security.




Is the Festival of Lights in Lyon free?


Yes, spend your money on my wine tasting instead.





How long does it take to walk through the Festival of Lights?


How long do you want to be outside? A few hours.



Is it the same on all four evenings?


Yes.



What are the best nights to go?


Thursday and Sunday are the least crowded.



Are there Covid Restrictions?


No.



Top Tips for the Fête des Lumières


Make dinner restaurant reservations for the whole time you're in Lyon as soon as possible. Good luck.


Wear lots of warm, dry clothes.


Book a wine tasting with me ahead of wandering around in the freezing cold to get some fire in your blood.






Lyon Fête des Lumières projections on the Quai du Saone. Light projected onto old buildings including two churches.
Lyon's Fête des Lumières is awesome!

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About the Author

I'm a wine expert living in Lyon, France where I host wine tastings out of my 1800s silk loft apartment.

I'm from San Francisco, but have lived in Lyon since 2017. I have my WSET Level 4 Diploma, a prestigious wine qualification.

Learn more about my wine tastings here!

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Get my guide!

Lyon is so beautiful and the Old Town is a must visit, but it's crammed with tourist traps! Check out my local's guide to Vieux Lyon's secrets here. This is a downloadable google map that will go straight into your phone.

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