Lyon's Festival of Lights pays tribute to Mandela

Lyon's Festival of Lights pays tribute to Mandela
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As the dark nights draw in, the French city of Lyon provides a little light relief. The annual Fête des Lumières held over four days in December is an electricity-sapping feast for the eyes.

Artists from around the world are invited to paint the town red using lasers and spotlights.

“Every year we ask the artists to propose their concepts based on locations,” explained Jean-François Zurawik, General coordinator of the festival. “We ask them to use the city as a huge backdrop, and to make proposals for parks, buildings, theatres, town hall, etc,” he said.

Though the focus is on the aesthetic, revellers still took time to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela by posting messages to a screen on the wall of a theatre.

The festival has its origins in 1643 when Lyon was struck by plague. The councillors pledged to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary if the town was spared. But it was not until 1852 that townspeople began lining their windows with candles on December 8.

The commercialisation of the festival took root in the twentieth century. Euronews correspondent Wolfgang Spindler reports:

“What once started out as a religious celebration has become today a platform for international light artists who attract between three and four million visitors with their light installations . Hotel and restaurant owners have every reason to be pleased.”

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