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'Magic and dreams' as Lyon's beloved Festival of Lights kicks off Christmas season

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2019 Festival of Lights in Lyon, France
2019 Festival of Lights in Lyon, France   -  
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Lyon's hugely popular Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) marking the start of the Christmas season kicks off this Thursday.

In the next four days, the French city's public monuments will light up in the evening and streets will be filled with art installations - 40 in total, according to the festival's website.

'Magic and dreams'

"Light, symbolising the renewed identity of the city, takes visitors on a journey through a poetic world, filled with magic and dreams," the festival organisers said.

Among other attractions on display this year, the courtyard of the City Hall features a sound and light installation, inspired by the underwater world of the mythical submerged city of Ys.

Along the banks of the Saone river and on Fourvière Hill, visitors will discover 'the Cloud Harvester,' an immersive artwork with a strong environmental message.

"The starting point for this creation is an invention designed to harvest the water contained in the clouds to solve drought caused by global warming," organisers said on the festival's website.

"This magical show follows the adventures of a family of giants collecting clouds to water a glowing flower, a fragile symbol of an endangered species."

A long tradition

The tradition behind the Festival of Lights dates back to December 8, 1852, when city residents placed candles in coloured glasses on their windows to celebrate the inauguration of a statue of the Virgin Mary on Fourvière hill.

The practice of lighting up entire districts continued and evolved over the years.

In the 1960s, shop-window illumination competitions gave new momentum to the tradition.

Illuminating heritage sites around December 8 became a city's public policy in 1989. Lyon was the first European city to launch such a project.

The annual event has now become part of the city's identity, drawing millions of visitors every year.

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