Arts & Culture Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Quick Guide to the Fête des Lumières, Lyon’s Festival of Lights 2023 (with Map!)


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

All About the Fête des Lumières, Lyon’s Magical Festival

The Lyon Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières in French) is a public event that takes place in the city of Lyon every year. During this beloved four-day Fête des Lumières, Lyon is lit up by artistic installations that make its architectural treasures even more astonishing.

Lyon’s Festival of Lights is celebrated around the 8 December for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Lyon – Fête des Lumières 2023 edition will take place from Thursday, 7 December, to Sunday, 10 December.

Here’s what to know about the Festival of Lights in Lyon, one of the top events in France in wintertime, and how to plan a perfect (and festive) weekend to Lyon to see the Festival.

Because of the Festival of Lights, Lyon is one of the best places to visit in France in wintertime. Check out the full list of our favorite places to visit in France in the winter.

Lyon Festival of Lights History

The origins of Lyon’s Festival of Lights date back to 1852 with the inauguration of a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, scheduled for September of that year. Due to a flood of the Saône banks, the inauguration was postponed until the 8 of December, when heavy rains threatened to ruin the planned illuminations of the town. As evening came, the rain stopped, and the locals spontaneously placed lanterns on their window sills.

This tradition has lived on, and every year, Lyonnaise lights up their windows with these small lanterns called “lumignons.”

However, the first Festival of Lights wasn’t held until 1989, when Michel Noir was mayor of the city. That year, the spontaneous celebration was accompanied by the first lighting of certain monuments.

The Fête des Lumières, Lyon, became the top wintertime tourist attraction in France that we know today in 1999 when the municipality implemented more lighting animations on many monuments in the city. In addition to lighting artistic installations, entertainment professionals began to animate each Arrondissement, making the Festival of Lights Lyon’s most popular event.

Lyon’s Festival of Lights Today

Festival of Lights - Lyon

Today, the Lyon Festival of Lights is one of France’s most important winter festivals, a most awaited event in the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region. Things have changed a lot since the first Festival in 1989, when there were just a couple of lit monuments.

The Festival nowadays offers scenographies and light shows by renowned national and international artists in every corner of the city. Some installations are still traditional, while others are innovative and surprising.

The Lyon – Fête des Lumières attracts several million visitors yearly, half of Lyon’s yearly visitors! During the four-day event, locals and tourists alike spend their evenings wandering around and admiring the lighting shows.

Due to the Festival’s popularity, the city municipality implemented a “lighting plan” to illuminate the facades of Lyon’s main monuments all year round, although the spectacle you will see during the Festival of Lights is on an entirely different level.

How to Get to Lyon

Lyon Perrache Train Station

The best way to travel to Lyon is by train, as Lyon is well connected by TGV trains with the main cities in France. Lyon’s main train stations are Gare Lyon Part-Dieu and Gare Lyon Perrache  Find the latest deals on train tickets

For all the ways to travel to Lyon, check out this article on how to get to Lyon from Paris, France, and abroad.

Where to Sleep During the Festival of Lights in Lyon

Given the popularity of the Festival of Lights, Lyon becomes a coveted destination during the dates of the event. Therefore, booking your accommodation well in advance is key, as the best hotels sell out very fast.

When it comes to accommodation in Lyon, there are many options you can choose from, but I suggest staying in the center so that you will be close to the main illuminated sites and can go everywhere on foot.

Another great idea would be to book a hotel with an on-site restaurant as it will be hard to get a table in Old Lyon since the big turnout of visitors. Enjoy dinner in your hotel before going out to experience the best of Lyon’s Festival of Lights. Here’s the list of some good hotels in central Lyon with a restaurant on-site:

Check out my post on the best hotels in Lyon for more accommodation options.

Lighted Sites during the Festival of Lights, Lyon

Visit the Old Town, with its traboules, the Cathedral, and the Croix-Rousse neighborhood during the day (here’s the list of our favorite things to do in Lyon). If the weather is good, take a Lyon guided bike tour to warm up.

Enjoy Lyon’s traditional cuisine in one of the many bouchons in the city. Then, when the sun sets, get ready for some memorable nights exploring Lyon’s illuminated monuments in a festive atmosphere.

Amongst the many lighting animations around the city, here are the must-see places of Lyon’s Festival of Lights.

1. Saint Jean Cathedral

Saint-Jean Cathedral lies in the heart of Lyon’s Old Town in the 5th Arrondissement. Lyon’s Cathedral was built between the 12th and 15th centuries. With a splendid blend of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, the Saint-Jean Cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

The Cathedral is well worth a visit, with its original stained-glass windows and giant 9-meter-tall clock from the 1300s. 

Illuminations: Kernel3 by

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

2. Fourvière Hill & Basilica

Fourvière is Lyon’s 5th Arrondissement, dominated by the namesake hill with the Basilica perched on its top. The Fourbière Hill was a strategic location, so much so that the Romans settled there. The Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière was built in the 19th century and was an important pilgrimage site.

Because of the origins of the Fête des Lumières, Lyon’s Basilica in Fourvière is one of the key sites of the Festival. Visit the Basilica inside to admire its magnificent decor and the Museum of Sacred Art. Then, ascend to the north tower to marvel at the city from above.

Illuminations: Ceux du Fleuve by Franck Dion

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

3. Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour is located in Lyon’s 2nd Arrondissement. This beautiful square in the center of Lyon is Europe’s largest pedestrian square. Place Bellecour features the bronze equestrian statue of King Louis XIV, and it is the access point to Lyon’s shopping arrondissement.

You should visit Place Bellecour as it is one of the city’s main symbols, and it hosts events and attractions throughout the year, like an ice skating rink in wintertime. Because of its size, Place Bellecour is one of the key sites of the Lyon – Fête des Lumières, and the illuminations around King Louis XIV’s statue are always spectacular!

Illuminations: Evanescent by Atelier Sisu

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

4. Banks of the Saône River

The Banks of the Saône River lie on the west of Lyon’s Old Town. The riverbanks have been turned into a pedestrian promenade from where it is possible to admire the elegant façades of the houses of the Old Town. The area is perfect for a relaxing walk in nature but also for doing other activities such as rowing and fishing.

Make sure to spend some time on the banks of the Saône River to experience the tranquil side of Lyon.


Re-Dessine-moi des Lumières by Gilbert Coudène et Étienne Guiol at Fresque des Lyonnais

Passengers by Guillaume Marmin at Place d’Albon

Ceux du Fleuve by Franck Dion, between the Saône River and Fourbière Hill

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

5. Banks of the Rhône River

The Banks of the Rhône River lie east of Lyon’s Old Town. Similarly to the Saône River, the banks of the Rhône River have a promenade with pedestrian and bike paths. The area was completely revamped in 2007 and now boasts shady lawns and a children’s playground.

Visit the Banks of the Rhône River to enjoy a relaxing riverside walk or ride alongside the locals.

Illuminations: Aura by Nicolas Paolozzi at Quai de Serbie

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

6. Parc de la Tête d’Or

This urban park is located in the 6th Arrondissement. The Parc de la Tête d’Or was inaugurated in 1857, and it is among France’s largest urban parks thanks to its 117 hectares. Landscaped by the Bühler brothers, the Parc de la Tête d’Or features a lake fed by a branch of the Rhône, a zoo, and a botanical garden.

During the day, stop by to admire more than 20,000 plant varieties and have fun with the whole family at the zoo. You can also warm up by pedal-boating in the lake. At night, this is one of the most magical places of Lyon’s Festival of Lights.


Les Lumignons du Coeur by Direction des Événements et de l’Animation de la Ville de Lyon

All the Trees by Joanie Lemercier

Geysers by Jérôme Donna

Rose Family by Philippe Katerina

La Fontaine Enchantée by Aglae Design

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Please, note that the Park’s entrance will close 30 minutes before the end of the soirée.

7. Hôtel Dieux

The Hôtel Dieux is located on the Presqu’Ile, the peninsula between the Saône and Rhône rivers. The Hôtel Dieux is one of the city’s longest buildings, with a façade overlooking the Rhône River. Built in the 12th century, the Hôtel Dieux was Lyon’s first hospital during Medieval times.

Its great location, fabulous front façade, and historical value make the UNESCO-listed Hôtel Dieux a must-see sight of Lyon. Today, the Hotel Dieux is one of the most luxurious hotels in Lyon.

This year 2023, there are no illuminations at Hotel Dieu.

8. Place des Jacobins 

This square lies in Lyon’s 2nd Arrondissement. Place des Jacobins is right in the center of the Presqu’Ile district. Built on the site of a former Jacobin convent from which it takes the name, this square is a big pedestrian area intersected by several shopping streets, making it particularly frequented.

Place des Jacobins is an unmissable stop not only for shopaholics but for everyone looking to visit one of Lyon’s most beautiful squares.

Illuminations: L’Écrin des Jacobins by 1024 Architecture

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

9. Place des Terreux 

Place des Terreaux is located in the 1st Arrondissement. A square with an exceptional layout, Place des Terreaux is lined with two of Lyon’s most emblematic monuments, the Hôtel de Ville (the City Hall) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. The square also houses the stunning Bartholdi Fountain, made by the creator of New York’s Statue of Liberty.

Besides marveling at fantastic monuments, passing by the Place des Terreaux is a must for those interested in visiting the Museum of Fine Arts. 

Illuminations: Cellulo /D by 1024 Architecture by Bruno Ribeiro

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

10. Place & Temple du Change

The Place and Temple du Change are in Lyon’s 5th Arrondissement. One of the most beautiful squares in Lyon’s Old Town, the Place du Change was the center of the city’s financial district for the presence of the Temple du Change, the stock exchange building. In 1803, the Temple du Change stopped having an economic role to become a Protestant church.

Paying a visit to the Place and the Temple du Change will make you discover more UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lyon.

Illuminations: FloWeR PoWer by Jean-Pierre David et Christian Thellier at Place du Change

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

11. Place & Théâtre des Celestins

Place and Théâtre des Célestins are located in the 2nd Arrondissement of the city. The Place des Célestins is one of Lyon’s many squares, where once stood the Célestins Convent. The Convent was converted into a theater in the late 18th century but destroyed a century later by a fire. Rebuilt in the Italian style, the Théâtre des Célestins is still used today.

Visit this square to discover one of the many architectural beauties of Lyon, alongside one of the oldest theaters in France.


ROW by Tundra at Célestins Theater

Soleil Nuit by Sébastien Lefèvre at Place des Célestins

Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Lyon Fête des Lumières 2023 – Full Program

The Festival of Lights in Lyon, is packed with wonderful lighted monuments to discover and artistic performances to attend. Following, is the full program of the 2023 edition so that you can get an idea of what this year’s Festival is all about.

Fête des Lumières – Lyon Light Festival Map 2023

Fête des Lumières – Lyon Ligtht Festival Map 2023 by Google My Maps (c)

Click here to view the Lyon Festival Map 2023 on Google

  • Nouvelle Vague at Gare Saint-Paul
  • FloWer PoWer at Place du Change
  • Kernel3 at Cathédrale Saint-Jean
  • V.V.V. Video /Visual /Vernacular at Fondation Bullukian
  • In-line v360 at Place Antonin Poncet
  • Evanescent at Place Bellecour
  • Ceux du Fleuve at Colline Fourbière
  • ROW at Théâtre des Célestins
  • Soleil Nuit at Place des Célestins
  • Sign at Place de la République
  • αsκlipιοn at Quartier Grolée
  • Planetoïdes at Place de la République
  • Enveloppe.s at Musée de l’Imprimerie et la Communication Graphique
  • Passengers at Place d’Albon
  • Re-dessine-moi des Lumières! at Fresque des Lyonnais
  • Expérimentations Etudiantes at Place Sathonay and Place de la Paix
  • L’Homme qui Marche Face au Vent at Place Louis Pradel
  • Les Lumignons du Coeur at Parc de la Tête d’Or
  • All the Trees at Parc de la Tête d’Or
  • Geysers at Parc de la Tête d’Or
  • Rose Family at Parc de la Tête d’Or
  • La Fontaine Enchantée at Parc de la Tête d’Or
  • Floraison at Allée Achille Lignon
  • Gazouillis#2 at Place du 8 Mai de 1945
  • Résistance(s). La liberté en Lumière(s) at Manufacture des Tabacs
  • Toys in Space at Parc Blandan
  • Le Soleil de la Duchère at La Duchère
  • Slow Light at Place Rambaud
  • Cellulo/d at Place des Terraux
  • Aj Bana Bee at Place de la Bourse
  • L’Ecrin des Jacobins at Place des Jacobins

And there you have it, all about Lyon’s Light Festival and how to get the most out of this magical weekend in Lyon. Enjoy!

Back to Homepage