The 8th December will forever be closely tied to the history of religion in Lyon.
In 1850, church leaders launched a competition for a statue to be realized as religious symbol at the top of the Fourvière hill. One year later Lyonnais sculptor Fabisch won the competition, and the 8th September 1852 was chosen for the inauguration of his work.
But in August the Saône overflowed its banks and flooded the worksite where the statue was to be sculpted. The inauguration was therefore postponed to the 8th December, the Festival of the Immaculate Conception. The same day, the newspapers announced the programme for the evening, and the entire city began readying for the event. A few people even decided to add lights to the facades of their residences with candles. But bad weather again caused church leaders to postpone the event, this time until the 12th December. Despite this setback, the Lyonnais remained enthusiastic.
Starting at 6pm, the first windows began to light up, and by 8pm the entire city was illuminated. A large part of the populace went into the streets to celebrate, full of joy and moved by the strength and spontaneity of the community feeling. The church leaders followed the celebrations, and the Chapel of Fourvière was lit up against the night sky.
That evening saw the birth of a new festival ! From that year on, each year on the 8th December the Lyonnais place small candles in their windows and head into the streets to enjoy the atmosphere.
The Fête des Lumières in figures 4 million visitors 80 light projects 8 million small candles sold in Greater Lyon 3.5 million public transport users 400 000 programmes broadcast 14 television stations, more than 250 newspaper articles 11 radio stations, the city hotels full for the 4 days of the Festival 3 times the turnover for the city bars and restaurants compared to normal periods 47 public and private partners.