Students pay tribute to Fête des Lumières

Students pay tribute to Fête des Lumières

This December, a 3rd semester group of Lighting Design students from Aalborg University were going to take part in the international Light Festival, Fête des Lumières, in Lyon, France. Unfortunately, due to recent events in France, the Festival had to be cancelled this year. However disappointed they were, the students came up with an idea of paying a tribute to Fête des Lumières in their own special way.

Last modified: 10.12.2015

Five students from the Master’s programme in Lighting Design and one from Sound and Music Computing were honoured when they were invited to take part in the prestigious and traditional Fête des Lumières in Lyon. They worked hard all year to prepare for the event, ending up with a light installation called “We are the band”. Everything was put in motion for the students and their supervisor to go to Lyon, as the light festival was cancelled.

“Although we fully understand and respect the reasons for the cancellation, we were of course very disappointed, because we had worked so hard on our installation. Plus, we were so honoured to be invited that the cancellation was quite a blow for us”, says student Mikolaj Lewandowski. “However, we decided to take different approach.”

Fête des Lumières builds on an old tradition where the people of Lyon light up the city by placing candles in their windows in celebration of the Virgin Mary, an event that goes back more than 150 years. However, the original celebration of the Virgin Mary goes back 372 years; since 1643, the inhabitants of Lyon have celebrated the Virgin Mary to thank her from protecting the city from the plague.
The students went on to buy 372 candles; one for each year of the past original celebrations. They then lit up all the candles and placed them along a bridge, connecting two AAU-buildings. This way, they paid their tribute to the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks and to Fête des Lumières in a simple and traditional manner. 


“I think the students have done a great job”, says Professor Marc Fontoynont. “It’s a very subtle yet noticeable gesture to express grief for recent events and to convey a sense of unity while looking forward to next year”, he says.

The students will all graduate next summer. However, they have been invited to take part in Fête des Lumières 2016 with their installation “We are the band”. The City of Lyon has decided to postpone this year’s festival to December of next year, inviting all this year’s participants. Even though the students will be long gone from AAU in December 2016, they will all be going to show their work in Lyon. “It would be such a pity, if they didn’t get to show their work themselves, so we are quite happy that the City of Lyon has made this decision”, says Marc Fontoynont.

The students very much look forward to going to Lyon next year, but these days, their focus is slightly changing towards their master’s theses - a work that will take them the entire spring semester. Afterwards, graduation is at hand.


  • A group of six students from Lighting Design and Sound and Music Computing at Aalborg University Copenhagen (AAU-CPH) were invited to Lyon for this year’s Fête des Lumières. Unfortunately, the light festival had to be cancelled due to recent events in Paris.
  • In 2015, the Fête des Lumières will be transformed into a vigil for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris, which will be held on December 8th.
  • The students decided to pay their own tribute to the victims and to Fête des Lumières by placing candle lights along a bridge which connects two AAU-buildings in Copenhagen.
  • As this year’s event was highly anticipated, the City of Lyon has decided to postpone the programme which will be identical in December 2016. Therefore, the AAU-students will get another chance next year to show their work.


  • Professor Marc Fontoynont (The Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University Copenhagen)
  • Associate professor Michael Mullins (Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University Copenhagen)
  • M.Sc. student Mikolaj Marcin Lewandowski,
  • Information Officer Tine Tindal,, +45 9940 9245