From the very outset, the people of Lyon participated in the Festival of Lights by placing lighted candles on their windowsills in a symbolic gesture. For one enchanted evening, the city is shown in a whole new light....
So don't forget! On Saturday, December 8, light your candles!
Journalist and historian Gérard Corneloup recalls the festival’s origins:
"The Festival of Lights is now an integral part of Lyon tradition and one of the emblems of the city's identity.
For centuries, Lyon was a merchant city, a city of fairs and silk, but Lyon was also, by tradition, a city of festivals and popular events that punctuated the rhythms of the city and its inhabitants.
In the years following the revolts of 1831, 1834 and 1848, the city went through a troubled period marked by social conflicts and recurrent flooding, as well as urban transformation, with the annexation of the neighboring communities of Vaise, La Guillotière and Croix-Rousse. During this period, Lyon lost its independence, and power was concentrated in the hands of the Prefect.
At this difficult time, it was decided that on September 8, 1852, a golden statue of the Virgin Mary would be erected on the Fourvière Hill bell tower, but flooding caused the event to be canceled. The event was moved up to December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. A series of religious events was planned, and in the evening the people of Lyon lighted their windows with candles placed inside colored glasses. Bad weather ruined the official ceremonies, but after the storm, the people of Lyon nonetheless lighted their homes in steadily growing numbers.
Thus was born the Festival of Lights, the emblem of a popular gathering, where the people of Lyon share a spirit of solidarity. This is the spirit of the Festival, the spirit of candles placed in windows.
As the years passed, the religious and official aspect of the celebration on December 8 took on a popular and festive connotation. Today, it has become the Festival of Lights, a high point for the people of Lyon, where they join together to express their shared joy and admiration for their city."