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Festival of Lights: Crowds show up as Lyon emerges from the shadows

A photograph taken on December 8, 2021 shows the modern art museum illuminated on the "Les Terreaux" square during the Festival of Lights (Fete des Lumieres), in Lyon.
A photograph taken on December 8, 2021 shows the modern art museum illuminated on the "Les Terreaux" square during the Festival of Lights (Fete des Lumieres), in Lyon.   -   Copyright  PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP   -  
By Josephine Joly

Lyon's world-famous Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) attracted crowds as it marked the start of the Christmas season under the rain on Wednesday night.

Now showcasing its second day of poetic sounds and light performances, thousands of visitors are expected to turn up on Thursday night, with strict sanitary measures put in place due to the surging COVID-19 figures in France.

When entering indoor installations, barriers and security staff lead the way – visitors are asked to show proof of vaccination and are only allowed to eat and drink in restricted areas.

But the presence of policemen and soldiers to enforce the rulesdid not seem to be a turn-off for the crowds.

"When we arrived, we were very pleased to see the security measures, there are a lot of soldiers and policemen. As for sanitary measures, it's really good that they remind you to wear the mask," one of the visitors told Euronews.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
People cross the illuminated Bellecour square, with the Fourviere basilica in the background, during the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumieres), in Lyon, France.PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Despite the inclement weather, children and adults alike enjoyed magical shows of lights throughout the entire city.

"It’s an amazing festival and usually there are a lot of people and it’s beautiful in Lyon. Every year, we benefit a lot from it," said Eva Lebrun, a resident.

This year, 27 squares form part of the backdrop for 31 poetic sound and light performances in the gastronomic city.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
People look at the town hall (L) and the Modern Art museum (R) illuminated on "Les Terreaux" square during the Festival of Lights, in Lyon, France, on December 8, 2021.PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

"We already saw the performance twice. It's really nice because they use two buildings. This creates a very immersive experience. It’s really nice," added visitor Gabriel Réquin.

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected every day until Saturday, a positive boost for Lyon and its economy after the event was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
Candles illuminate the Jacobins square during the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumieres), in Lyon central eastern France.PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

The Festival of Lights is also a reminder of another pandemic. In 1643, residents of Lyon gave thanks to the Virgin Mary for delivering them from the plague.