Lyon Light Festival Forum 2020

– Highlights

A celebration of creative light for unprecedented times

Last week, LUCI and the City of Lyon presented the 2020 edition of the Lyon Light Festival Forum (LLFF) – the network’s annual event on creative lighting.

As the Covid-19 pandemic persists across the world, LUCI made the decision to turn the LLFF  into a fully online event. 400 professionals from 67 countries attended the three-day event.

Setting the stage

Opening the event was Victoire Goust. The new Deputy Mayor for the City of Lyon in charge of Tourism & Events, reminded us of the role of light as “a vector for social, cultural and economic development” and told us of her hope to see creativity help us survive this extraordinary year. Meri Lumela, Chair of the City Board of Jyväskylä, introduced her city as the newly elected LUCI President. She also highlighted the role of light festivals for cities to be livable for inhabitants and lovable for tourists. Finally, Barbara Kreissler, the director of Public Affairs for Signify, a partner for this event, concluded the opening session with an address on sustainability.

New visions for light & night in the city

In a year where lockdowns and social distancing have kept us away from public spaces and from each other, the main sessions of the LLFF both presented powerful visions for light in the city.

In the first session, a key message was the need to embrace the creative potential of darkness to reimagine the urban nighttime. Sylvain Godinot, Deputy Mayor of Lyon, called on other cities to harness not only the power of light, but also of shadows, to create their unique nocturnal identities. He underscored the necessity of cooperation when undertaking such projects.

A perfect illustration was then provided by Sarah Gaventa, Director of the Illuminated River Foundation, which plans to light up 14 bridges of central London and transform nocturnal views of the city. Ms. Gaventa explained how the project uses creative light to elevate public spaces and celebrate the communities living along the Thames, while also respecting the environment.

Finally, Jess Scully, Deputy Mayor of Sydney, presented the crucial role of light in sustaining a nighttime economy and reclaiming the city as a people-focused place. Ms. Scully had previously written on this topic for Cities & Lighting (Issue #7, July 2018)., the network’s magazine.

Fostering adaptation & creativity in unusual times

In the second session, participants heard from the organisers of four renowned light festivals: Julien Pavillard and Romain Tamayo of Fête des Lumières (Lyon), Elisa Hillgen of City of Light (Jyväskylä), Kaat Heirbrant of Lichtfestival (Ghent), and Ronald Ramakers of GLOW (Eindhoven).

This year, of course, has been particularly complex for them – for event-makers in general. Yet, despite the challenges of changing guidelines or outright cancellations, they all displayed a great breadth of creativity. The organisers told the participants of the process behind remaking their festivals into solidarity-focused community events, or unique city-wide artworks.

There is no doubt that the creativity born out of these challenges will endure. The discussions between the speakers and the audience made clear that the “new normal” of Covid-19 was a harbinger of what would need to be done to enhance the sustainability of festivals in the fight against climate change.

Each in their own way, speakers representing cities and festivals dared participants to go beyond the common knowledge: bigger is not necessarily better, and the darkness of the nighttime has a lot to offer to cities and their inhabitants.

Sharing & creating together, the hallmarks of a great event

Despite the change of “venue,” the LLFF participants were again invited to share and learn from one another. Three sessions of Pecha Kucha-style presentations highlighted some of the latest projects in the field of creative lighting. Speakers came from Belgium, Colombia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Mexico and the UK. Five LUCI member cities and six associated members presented innovative artworks, new festivals and community-based experiences. Lively Q&As made for interesting exchanges with the audience.

Finally, several moments of the three days of festival were dedicated to the community of participants:

  • A “speed-networking” feature of the event platform allowed for 188 one-on-one meetings, that we hope to have been rich and fruitful;
  • In the Expo zone, seven booths provided information and material on creative lighting curated by LUCI and its organizing and media partners;
  • On Tuesday, many of you joined us on a socially distanced group photo… on Zoom!
  • Over the three days of the event, attendees had the opportunity to participate in the “Together through light” initiative, sending us a picture of their “lumignons”: small candles set on the windowsills that are a staple of the Fête des Lumières in Lyon.

Watch or re-watch the conference

LUCI members can access the presentations made during the conferences in the


Light Festival Calendar

Discover more light festivals in our international Light Festival Calendar 

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