ONLYLYON Ambassadors

A highlight for the people of Lyon, both here and abroad, the Festival of Lights is an event whose origins go back to the 19th century.

The origin of 8 December

On 8 September 1852, when a statue of the Virgin was to be raised to the top of the Fourvière church (next to the basilica that was to be built 20 years later), a flood in the Saône caused delays in its delivery. The festivities that accompanied the event were then postponed until 8 December of the same year.

On the day of the event, bad weather again threatened to postpone the long-awaited inauguration. But the inhabitants, in a spirit of popular communion, spontaneously placed candles on their windowsills, illuminating the whole city. Thus was born the tradition of 8 December. Since then, every year on this date, the people of Lyon have perpetuated the tradition of lighting candles at nightfall.

From 1960 onwards, the event became a pretext for a competition to illuminate shop windows, announcing the end-of-year festivities. For 20 years, 8 December has been transformed into an international artistic event that transforms Lyon into a veritable open-air theatre of lights for a few days!

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