Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Creative City of Media Arts

The City of Lyon is situated by the Rhône and Saône Rivers in the south-eastern part of central France. With a population of around half a million, Lyon is the third largest city in France and one of the country’s most dynamic and innovative. Lyon is known worldwide as the capital of French gastronomy, the former silk capital of the world, the birthplace of the cinema. In recent years the city has increasingly been drawing attention for its creative ventures in the world of media arts, including the annual Festival of Light spectacle as well as for its new architecture.

Header photo: Fête des Lumières, Muriel Chaulet/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

Fête des Lumières – Photo: Muriel Chaulet/Lyon Tourism and Conventions (Click to enlarge)
Quai de Saône – Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Quai de Saône – Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

Creative City of Media Arts

Cinématographe – Photo: Marie Perrin
Cinématographe – Photo: Marie Perrin

The dazzling views of Lyon at night may have inspired the Lumière Brothers in their work on the world’s first motion-picture camera, the cinématographe, invented here at the end of the 18th century. And who know’s, the first ever flickering images projected onto the silver screen may also have inspired the city’s future vision of itself as a creative city of light and moving images, a century or so after the Lumière Brothers’ forays into this field.

Evolving out of the city’s media sector initiative, Lyon’s traditional light festival – Fête des Lumières – has become a large-scale multimedia spectacle illuminating the city’s architectural landscape and World Heritage monuments at night around December 8th every year.

The four-day festival has its origins in a centuries old Lyonnaise tradition of lighting small candles on the window sills outside as a token of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving the city from the plague. In 2018, the 4-day event attracted around 1.8 million visitors, among them some 100,000 foreigners, with the top five countries represented being Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Vieux-Lyon – Photo: Asgeir Pedersen/Spots France

The City of Lyon and the Lyon Metropolis have in recent years invested heavily in the development of the digital economy and creative industries, representing around 7000 companies including a number of leading software gaming firms.

In addition to the Festival of Light, the city also support a host of digital media arts initiative at the international level, such as the Mirage Festival, electronic music and film festivals, events in the theatrical arts field, the city’s Digital Library NUMELYO and various digital strategies for its museums.

Lyon is at present one of two UNESCO-designated Cities of Media Arts in France. Lyon joined the Creative Cities Network in 2008, followed by Enghien-les-Bains (Paris) in 2013.

Lyon – old and new

Photos (clockwise from top left):
Place de la Trinité, Vieux-Lyon, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Traboule, Croix-Rousse, Photo: Brice Robert/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Confluence, Cube Orange, Jakob + MacFarlane architectes – Photo: Brice Robert/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Musée des Confluences, Photo: Quentin Lafont/Musée des Confluences/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

Lyon at night

Photos (clockwise from top left):
Place des Terreaux, Terreaux – Opéra, Photo: Tristan Deschamps/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Place du Change, Vieux-Lyon, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Fête des Lumières, OnDiraitQue, Photo: Muriel Chaulet/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Fête des Lumières, Quai de Saôn, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

SOURCES & CREDITS
All photos courtesy of Lyon Tourism & Conventions except as indicated
Fête des Lumières
ONLYLYON
Enghien-les-Bains, City of Media Arts
Saint-Étienne, City of Design
UNESCO