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Lyon – Fête des lumières 2012 (Festival of Lights) Part 2

Fête des Lumières 2012

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière with the Golden Virgin Mary
Perched on top of Fourvière hill, the gold statue of the Virgin Mary was created by the renowned sculptor Fabisch in 1852 and sponsored by several notable Lyonnais Catholics. The inauguration of the golden statue of the Virgin Mary on the north-west tower is the origin of Fête des Lumières, when the citizens of Lyon display candles (lumignons) at their windows.

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who saved the city of Lyon from a cholera epidemic sweeping Europe in 1823, Fourvière forms part of Vieux (Old) Lyon, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière looms impressively over the city of Lyon where it can be seen from many vantage points; not unintentionally, the basilica of Fourvière has become a symbol of the city. It receives 2 million visitors annually and is also know as “the hill that prays”.

Fête des Lumières 2012

To visit the basilica, you can choose to walk up the hill (a 2+hour journey up the steps which I would never forget nor repeat) or simply take a 5-minute ride on the funicular which is just next to the Fourvière train station. You can use your train ticket on the the funicular as well, so keep your ticket.

Fête des Lumières 2012

The design of the basilica by Pierre Bossan draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It has four main towers, and a belltower topped with a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. It features fine mosaics, superb stained glass, a crypt of Saint Joseph and a Museum of Religious Art.
Work on the basilica begun in 1872 and finished in 1884. Finishing touches in the interior were not completed until 1964. That makes it almost a century in building. Gosh.

Fête des Lumières 2012

The amazing gold ceiling of the basilica taken in 2009. The interiors are currently going renovation, and will be finished by 2013.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Interior of the basilica

Fête des Lumières 2012

The walls of the basilica were covered with huge mosaic paintings formed with tiny squares of stone.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Light a candle and say Thank You Mary!

Fête des Lumières 2012

How cute! A scene depicting baby Jesus and the Three Kings

Fête des Lumières 2012

You can get a pretty awesome view of the entire city of Lyon and its suburbs from Fourvière Hill. I would highly recommend anyone going to Lyon to make a trip here.

Fête des Lumières 2012

That’s the Ferris Wheel at Place Bellecour. It is even more beautiful during festival nights as you can see a number the light artworks from a bird’s eye view.

Fete des Lumieres

The Ferris Wheel itself hosted an amazing artwork when I first went in 2009 – that must be one of the largest circular video screens around!

Fetes-des-Lumieres

A photo for remembrance! Me with my crazy hair and Jia, a sweet long-time friend now living in London who came to the festival with me. Feels really good to huddle in the cold weather!

Fête des Lumières 2012

We discovered a short-cut down the hill! Which was good since the funicular would be crowded and this took only 15 minutes. To walk down, that is.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Here’s the street to remember!

Fête des Lumières 2012

Vieux Lyon on 8 Dec was CROWDED! To commemorate the day Lyon was consecrated to the Virgin Mary for saving the town from plague, a solemn procession makes its way to the Basilica of Fourvière on 8 Dec to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary. This has been done every year since 1643.

Fête des Lumières 2012

I felt really fortunate to have witnessed this procession. I said hello to the priest too, who greeted me “ni hao” (hello in Mandarin)! I really give it to the people who made the the arduous climb up the hill to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière we had just climbed down – my knees wobbled like jelly with the mere thought of walking up the hill! Talk about pure devotion. Amen.

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean
This is one of my most favourite artworks at the festival – I watched it at least eight times. The ever-changing light projection with well-matched music was simply magical. I couldn’t stop clicking my camera. Nor staring in awe. Whenever a show ended, you could hear the crowd clapping and cheering. I bet the artist would be very, very proud of what he had created. Bravo!

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Chrysalises of Saint-Jean by Damien Fontaine @ Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Fête des Lumières 2012

What If by Daniel Knipper along the quays of the Saône river
And this was the craziest light projection of them all, ever – huge coloured drawings inspired by the works of Joan Miro, Picasso or Mondrian were projected along the waterfront of La Saône river, comprising the Fourvière basilica, the chevet of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean and the façade of the Palais de Justice.
I have never seen such a massive light projection, and I can’t imagine how many ga-billions it must have cost. Amazing. The French are definitely amazingly crazy people!

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Luminéoles’ Ball by Christophe Martin along the banks of the Rhône river
This is one of my favourite artworks. The Luminéoles are imaginary light birds with slender wings which dance in a spectacular aerial ballet. My friends and I call them the “flying sperm” heehee.

Fête des lumières

It was hard work getting a flying sperm to a climax high – each one had a person flying it like a kite on the ground. The festival lasted six hours a night, and imagine being out in the cold flying a Luminéole all night.

Fête des lumières

Oriflammes by Sébastien Lefèvre @ Pont Lafayette
Lines of little flags ripple in a continuous dance of changing colours and form an impressive luminous path which visitors can follow to cross from one bank to the other.

Fête des lumières

Human jam! We jostled for 20 minutes, only to realise we only made 10 steps forward. FAIL. Backtrack and go by an alternative route.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Nest, Virtual Aviaries by Lucion Media @ Montée de la Grande Côte
I love this artwork! Twelve large luminous bubbles housing virtual birds placed in the gardens of the Grande Côte are theatres of shadows always in movement, like mobiles brought to life by the wind. Guided by song, walkers stroll in the middle of these abstract compositions, at the same time are invited to re-live their childhood emotions.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Nest, Virtual Aviaries by Lucion Media @ Montée de la Grande Côte
You simply have to see it in motion to appreciate its beauty.

Fete des lumieres

And this was what the same garden looked like in 2009 – an electric floral garden. The festival is just so full of surprises!

Fête des Lumières 2012

Box by Marie-Jeanne Gauthé/Laser Movement @ Place du Maréchal Lyautey
Like a musical box, the laser lights dance to the familiar tune of the Swan Lake and evokes an emotive atmosphere. One of my favourite artworks as well.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Magic Cube by Gilbert Moity @ Place Bellecour
Visitors become cyclists to illuminate the statue of Louis XIV and its pedestal. This combined energy will create a series of abstract coloured images which vary with every sequence and light up the statue in a unique way. There is a grand finale of light to reward the athletes’ efforts.

Fête des Lumières 2012

How can there be no fireworks at a light festival? We were treated to an aerial spectacular along the Rhone river.

Fête des Lumières 2012

And how can there be no champagne to celebrate yet another successful festival showing? Congrats TILT!

By then, it was also time to bid farewell to my friends and Lyon. I enjoyed the festival tremendously and I am sure I will fondly remember a number of the artworks for a long, long time. Awwww, I hate good-byes…till the next festival, I love you Lyon and Mary, thanks for all the wonderful memories and friends you have given me. À bientôt.

Also read: Lyon – Fête des lumières 2012 (Festival of Lights) Part 1

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Lyon – Fête des lumières 2012 (Festival of Lights) Part 1

Fête des Lumières 2012

I like, I light.  Turn me on, baby!
Off I went to visit a very special festival Fête des Lumières in Lyon, France during December 2012. I first saw the festival in 2009 and couldn’t stop thinking about it – what I experienced was simply breath-taking. So when my friends told me they were exhibiting once again at the festival, I was only too happy to take a winter holiday and meet them in Lyon.

Fête des lumières, or the Festival of Lights, the longest-existing and grandest light festival in the world is the most awaited annual public event of Lyon, drawing over three million people over four days of festivities, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th December. A city known world-wide for its expertise in urban lighting, the Lyonnaise festival centres around illuminating the city’s architecture with spectacular light installations. The city centre is closed to traffic and public transport offered free of charge during the four festival evenings so as to allow visitors to easily get around the installation sites, so you imagine the sheer size of the entire festival. Surprisingly, the energy cost of the whole event accounts for only 0.1% of the annual consumption of Lyon’s street lighting.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Golden Virgin Mary at Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Fête des lumières’ origins date back to 1643 when the inhabitants of Lyon were struck by the plague and spared. During the outbreak, the city council promised to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary should she save them, so every year on 8 December candles were lit and offerings were given in her name. This uniquely Lyonnaise tradition of families placing candles on window sills is still observed today, in addition to the extravagant and professionally run light performances.

And this is the part of the festival that I truly like – it came from the people and not from the authorities or an event organizer, thus it is quite moving to see how the entire city comes together year after year to put on such a spectacular show for the world. Imagine four nights of light projections outside your apartment window coupled with dramatic music, millions of people looking up at your window.

To get to Lyon, I took a flight from Singapore to London (12.5hrs), then Paris (1.5hrs), then the TGV (2hrs). The entire journey took about 16 hours. Lyon is a very special place for me, because that was my first destination in Europe, first time I saw a light festival, and now the first time I saw snow. The snow-covered scenery on the TGV was a sight to behold. For a moment, I dreamt I was Snow White, although I know not what I would attract when I open my mouth to screech sing.

Fête des Lumières 2012

View of Lyon from atop the hill

Over 60 significant locations across all nine districts of Lyon become the canvas for the festival light installations – main shopping street Place de la République, city centre Place Bellecour, city square Place des Terreaux, churches like Cathedral Saint-Jean and its latest project La Confluence. Each year these key sites form the canvas for artists to interpret the public spaces through their artistic expression, transforming how the sites are typically viewed and unveiling the architectural treasures of the city in a beautiful and unique way.

Fête des Lumières 2012

For this trip, I wanted it to be as un-touristy as possible and live like a local. So I booked an apartment via AirBnB. It was a spacious, clean and comfortable penthouse in a building that was only five minutes’ walk from the train station. And cheaper than a hotel.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Here’s the view I woke up to at the apartment – snow!
The owner Guillaume was a really cool dude and my friend & I enjoyed his apartment so much we didn’t really feel like leaving the apartment. The funny part was – this was my first time booking and his first time renting. So we were figuring out how to book his place via the AirBnB system together, each other none the wiser. Haha.

Fête des Lumières 2012

All covered up to explore the festival. My friends were so awesome – they surprised me with a Festival Artist pass – I’m part of the team! *touched*
Silver scarf – H&M
Blue-Red Striped sweatshirt – Givenchy
Super long gloves – Marni
Pants – Undercover by Jun Takahashi
Ear muffs – Daiso
Checkered beret & Fur boots – from Tokyo Shibuya

Fête des Lumières 2012

Highlights by Hélène Richard and Jean-Michel Quesne @ Place des Terreaux
A grand lighting projection done on the three facades of Lyon’s city square. This is one of the focal sites for the festival, so artworks exhibited at this location are usually quite impressive and seen by one million festival goers.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Hai hai!
Silk Kokeshi dolls by Annelore Parot at l’Hôtel de Ville. Very interesting to see Asian content by a European in a European festival. And who’s cuter??? (Me! Me!)

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Dragon King by Bibi @ Place de la Republique (Lyon city’s main street)
This is one of my fave pieces – can you recognise what it is made up of?

Fête des Lumières 2012

The 30-metre long, 7-metre high dragon consists of traffic cones, LED lights and recycled materials. I met Bibi before when he exhibited in Singapore, and I must say he is quite an interesting character. What I like about this artwork is that it looks good both at night as well as in the daytime.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Light In by TILT @ Place Louis Pradel
This is my friends’ artwork – am so proud of them! This piece featuring giant lampshades with changing lights is a beauty to watch. I wish I had a garden big enough to adopt one of these…

Fete des Lumieres

And this was TILT’s artwork “My Public Garden” at the same location which I first set my eyes on in 2009, fell in love with, and got them to exhibit in Singapore. And the rest is history.

Fête des Lumières 2012

That’s Francois the charismatic leader of TILT. TILT regularly exhibits at light festivals around the world and in my opinion is one of the best light art troupes around. We regularly kept in touch despite my broken French and their broken English. They made me believe that chicken-and-duck-talk CAN work. More importantly, they are very sincere and loyal friends, which is also the reason why I would travel 16 hours, half the globe and brave the freaking cold just to catch up with them.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Roman-tyca by Hexagone Illumination @ Rue de la République
The main streets in the city centre were illuminated with thousands of lights, adding to the festive mood. These arches were inspired from the traditions of southern Europe, but to me they resembled something from Deepavali (Indian Festival of Lights) which we have back home.

Fête des Lumières 2012

I call this the Lovey-Dovey Street

Fête des Lumières 2012

How to make the best use of time when stuck in a human jam? Camwhore and do a Look of the Day photo, haha

Fête des Lumières 2012

More hearts. Maybe I should do this for my own windows!

Fête des Lumières 2012

Corazón by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada @ Place de la Bourse
A colorful heart paired with pounding music. I hope that’s what a guy feels when he sees me – excitedly pounding heart bursting with colours of the rainbow!

Fête des lumières

Ultrapictorial Lights by Laurent Langlois @ Théâtre des Célestins
The theatre facade is ‘painted’ in front of the viewer’s eyes. This is so good for a fashionably indecisive me – I can have a new room everyday to match the season!

Fête des Lumières 2012

A very simple yet effective light installation I saw in a church – shapes are cut our on a piece of paper, pink film pasted on and mounted around a bicycle wheel, fix on a bulb and voika – a very cute light artwork! I can definitely fall asleep looking at this on my ceiling…I will call this the auto sheep-counting mechanism.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Stop staring at my ass!
The Strange Lift by Stéphane Masson @ various train lifts
It’s quite fun to see different animals popping up on the glass door of the train lifts. People crowd around anticipating what to expect next, and best part of all – it’s a fully-functioning lift, so it’s quite funny to see the anticipation build up and the lift door suddenly open to offload its passengers and break the suspense.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Hot chestnuts! That, and vin chaud (mulled wine, or red wine boiled with cinnamon, orange peel and other spices) are definitely my fave snacks for the cold winter. And of course nothing beats a hot guy *wink*

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Anooki by Moetu Batlle et David Passegand @ Saint-Paul train station
Oh my gawd, these playful anookis were SO cute they had me mimicking them and giggling like a little girl! You definitely have to see the video.

Fête des Lumières 2012

The Sarabande of Magnificient Animals by L’Atelier de l’évènement
Bengal the tiger, Mala the cow, Langur the monkey, Hindi the elephant, Pavo the peacock and Naja the cobra – six giant puppets inspired by Indian traditions popped up at different parts of the city to wow festival goers. It was a treat bumping into the creatures. Hey – can I get a lift on Bengal the tiger?

Fête des Lumières 2012

Illuminated Dressed by Kim Tae-gon @ Salle Molière
Each of these breath-taking dressed were woven from 300km of fibre optic cable. Yes, 300km. Can I borrow one just for a night of Cinderella fantasy? And I also need a hot male servant behind me to carry the power generator for the lights..

Fête des Lumières 2012

I think this maybe the only time you can get three grown men so interested in a dress LOL.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Abyssal Immersion by Direction de l’Eclairage
A dark road tunnel has been transformed into an aquatic world with mysterious fish enclosed in the vault which are trying to escape to return to the river. A strong and memorable piece of artwork.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Festival guides go around the city in segways to provide directions and give out brochures, isn’t that cool?

Fête des Lumières 2012

Lamps, lamps and lamps. All sorts of lamps you can imagine. It’s a lampslide.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Flamingos by David Lesort et Arnaud Giroud
An illuminated avian migration from the East

Fête des Lumières 2012

Illuminated garden.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Student works chosen for their originality and creativity in a competition organized by the Grands Ateliers, involving dozens of French schools of architecture, art, design and engineering.

Fête des Lumières 2012

Ring[Z] by Philippe Morvan
The eye is the first circle, the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fête des Lumières 2012

Find my switch
Floating Lights by Travesias de Luz
Made up of 200 colored floaters which light up like switches when you press on them, people were forming words with them, and it was really great to see them enjoying themselves.

Fête des Lumières 2012

The most gigantic torchlight I have seen

Fête des Lumières 2012

We caught sight of these human Christmas trees – they sing too!

Fête des Lumières 2012

La Confluence is the latest on-going urban redevelopment project in Lyon, and this is the first time the festival has been extended here to create awareness. See the artwork here.

We explored the light installations every night in the freezing cold winter until after midnight. The legs were sore, tummies hungry again when we got home from all the walking, yet there were so many more wonderful installations to see. And that’s why we have a Part 2 of the festival coming up…