Hexagone Illumination
Byzance, Hexagone Illumination. Fête des Lumières 2013. © Frédéric Guignard-Perret

Festival of Lights program manager Gilles Flouret shares his thoughts on the trends and impact of the world’s largest light festival

Paris may be known as the City of Light, but a trip just 290 miles southeast of the capital city each December might convince you otherwise. Now in its fifteenth year, Lyon’s annual Fête des Lumières has become the world’s largest celebration of light art, attracting more than 1 million visitors for four magical nights each December.

Originating from a tradition that began in 1852, when the citizens of Lyon lighted their windows and balconies to honor the statue of the Virgin Mary on Fourvière Hill, the Festival of Lights today celebrates innovations in art lighting, with more than 120 artists creating 70 illuminated sites around the city.

Dessine-moi... des lumières.
Dessine-moi… des lumières. Fête des Lumières 2013. © Muriel Chaulet

Gilles Flouret, program manager for the Festival of Lights, says that the call for entries for the festival begins every March, with more than 150 proposals submitted for the festival’s fifteen primary installation sites. Emerging artists and designers work alongside those with years of experience.

Flouret has noticed that the nature of the proposals the festival receives has changed over the years. “Technical evolutions have enabled new creations,” he explains. “Developments in LED, high-power projectors, and new materials for light objects are some of the biggest changes we’ve seen.”

More than the technological evolution, Flouret says, it is the creativity and innovation of the artists that make the festival a success. The festival, in turn, celebrates the artist by turning the entire city of Lyon into a giant showroom for art and industry. “There are now more than 23 light art festivals worldwide being created on the scale of the 21st-century city,” he explains. “This contributes to better collective living for the cities’ inhabitants, and also to the development of tourism.”

While each edition of the festival leaves behind a permanent lighting installation for the city of Lyon, Flouret also sees the impact of the festival in permanent lighting trends around the world. “Fabricators and manufacturers are intrigued by the new technologies and publicity presented by the festival, and the private and public sectors are becoming increasingly demanding of more creativity in their permanent lighting.”

And that, we think, is simply brilliant.


Quick Fact:  Lyon’s Festival of Lights consumes only 0.1% of the city’s annual lighting energy.