Gearing up for the festival

But this is all in a day’s work for the teams of the Public Lighting Department. It has been their job every year since 2005 to fit lighting gels to between 1,200 and 1,400 urban street lamps depending on the Festival programme. The idea is to link together the different installations. Lighting designer Jérôme Donna explains: “Dimming the light of the street lamps helps the light installations stand out better. It is also a way to use light to create a special atmosphere in the streets in the build up to the Festival.

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 In the streets of Lyon during the Festival of Lights © Michel Djaoui


It takes four or five days to fit the gels – the material used to colour the light from the street lamps - using aerial work platforms. They are not taken down straight away to maintain the very special atmosphere. The shops located close to installations are also asked to make their contribution by dimming their lights. 

Nowadays, the gels are manufactured using an industrial process. Some are cut to size in social insertion facilities. Sustainable development is a priority for the public lighting department and most of the gels are put away after the event and reused the following year.

This process is an original way to gear up for the Festival and reveal each installation in its full glory. It is typical to Lyon and shows the importance Lyon places on its public lighting.