Monday, December 24, 2012

Lighting Up the City

I love Christmas time. Just like Dickens says, it seems to be one of those special times that people "open their shut-up hearts freely" and try to think of others a little differently. But in addition to the special feeling, I love the sounds, smells, tastes, and sights of Christmas, and in particular, I love the lights. Being from Utah, I'm used to seeing every house lit up with tiny lights and have seen the incredible lights on Temple Square countless times. So, I had fairly high expectations for Lyon's own Fête des Lumières (festival of lights).

There are several legends and traditions tied up in this festival--all of them in some way linked to the Virgin Mary. According to some, she saved the city from the plague whereas others state that she saved them from the Prussians. Any way you slice it, December 8th attracts millions of people to the streets of Lyon each year. Unfortunately, I was in Nice that day...but--to regulate some of the traffic, the festival has been extended to the days preceding the actual celebration! So, joining with a few pals, I set off to investigate two days earlier when the crowds were nowhere near as insane (rumor has it it was impossible to move in the entire downtown area, because there were literally wall-to-wall people).

I have to admit...I was initially a bit disappointed. While there were a fair amount of lights strung up between buildings, I didn't see much to convince me that Lyon's fête was really all that. That was, of course, until we came across this:

This small clip is only a fraction of the entire show; it went on for at least seven minutes! I couldn't believe how awesome it was to watch the cathedral transformed into an amazing display of moving lights. Turns out they did shows like this in other areas of the city, too--but I didn't know until it was too late to pass by... Furthermore, when we were negotiating the insane metro after travelling from Nice the night of the main event, I was inspired to see apartment windows lit up with small candles--a tradition only broken out for December 8th. Lesson learned? Brave the crowds next year and see more of the awesome light shows... In the meantime, I still got to enjoy the Christmas lights hanging all over the city and even in our charming little Ecully. The French really do know how to do Christmas right! :)


  1. That's very cool to see that projected on the cathedral like that but what was going on there? It was maybe on fire and then angels were shooting cats or something? But it's a cool idea. Maybe we can convince the church to do that with the Conference Center next year. :)

  2. Good question...I don't actually know! I think they were supposed to be gargoyles in which case the angels had to destroy them! :)