The Fête Des Lumières (festival of lights) in Lyon, France expresses gratitude toward Mary, mother of Jesus on December 8 of each year. This uniquely Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. The festival, which includes other activities based on light, usually lasts 4 days, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th. The two main focal points of activity are typically the Basilica of Fourvière which is lit up in different colours, and the Place des Terreaux, which hosts a different light show each year.

The origins of the festival date to 1643 when Lyon was struck by plague. The municipal councillors (échevins) promised to pay tribute to Mary if the town was spared. Ever since, a solemn procession makes its way to the Basilica of Fourvière on this day to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary. The event thus commemorates the day Lyon was consecrated to the Virgin Mary.

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WHEN: Annually, December 8

WHERE: Lyon, France

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Fête Des Lumières - Belle Court Fête Des Lumières - St. Jean Cathedral Fête Des Lumières - City view

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This article is part of an ongoing series of posts highlighting significant festivals throughout the world, typically held during limited periods of time during the year. The series will identify and profile a select number of world festivals for nomination, ultimately selecting 15 worthy of the title “Top 15 Greatest World Festival”.

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