101 places to go – Lyon’s Fête des lumières

See Lyon in a different light

While the Christmas period isn’t short of great festive celebrations, it’s fairly hard to find one that is a genuinely unique celebration of local heritage.

Many towns and cities across the UK and beyond offer wonderful Christmas markets, with their streets and buildings providing a fantastic backdrop to the festivities, but, in truth, their offerings are not all that varied (though fending the cold off with Gluhwein and good cheer is such a great way to welcome in the winter that we don’t really let it bother us!).

Christmas in Lyon is a little different, however…

• The Fête des Lumières’ origins date back to the 17th Century when Lyon was struck by bubonic plague. And while this hardly sounds like the makings of anything worth celebrating, the townsfolk’s subsequent prayers to the Virgin Mary are the reason why the citizens of Lyon light candles in their windows to this day.

• The festival tradition began in 1852 with the inauguration of a statue of the Virgin Mary. So delighted were the people of Lyon that they began to light candles in their windows before taking to the streets to sing the praises of their saviour.

• Today, lighting up your window for the Fête des lumières is as traditional a part of the Lyon Christmas as putting up your tree and writing your wish-list. The city’s council recognise the importance of the event for tourism and Lyon’s heritage by staging a number of shows, displays and performances over the three days. The city’s most iconic features are bathed in a dazzling array of beautiful colours and the carnival atmosphere is both captivating and contagious. It’s undoubtedly one of the best ways to welcome in the festive period.

If you’d like to celebrate Lyon’s heritage, or just enjoy one of the most unique and spectacular events of the festive period, then take a look at our holiday properties in Lyon. You can also take a look at the festival’s teaser trailer below…

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