Winter Magic: A Glimpse Into The Festival Of Lights In Paris

Experiencing the Festival of Lights in Paris illuminated my winter visit this past December. I discovered enchanting displays at Jardin d’Acclimatation, Parc Floral de Paris, and Jardin des Plantes. Illuminated sculptures of animals, plants, and Christmas ornaments and symbols are displayed outdoors and you immerse yourself in the light show as you walk along a path.

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These annual attractions brighten the city and have become a regular holiday event usually starting in late November. Some run just into the new year and a few continue into February in Paris and even into March in other locations in France.

Reaching the festivals with ease via the Paris metro, I explored the captivating light structures for a couple of hours at each park. While there are additional illumination shows at Parc de la Villette and just outside of Paris at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte and Thoiry,  I was not up to getting to these due to an illness.

The festival of lights during this festive season is very well done and I was not uncomfortable being outside for a couple of hours. I ordered tickets online and would suggest booking in advance just to ensure you get in.

For more insight into the other experiences I had during this trip, check out this Itinerary: Trip #38: Paris and Strasbourg In December.

Accommodations In Paris: For my 9 nights in Paris, I once again stayed at the Citadines Bastille Marais hotel apartment. It was in the perfect location! Do consider staying here. The price is very good and the room (I had a studio with a kitchen) was spacious! Check out the latest prices here: Citadines Bastille Marais.

1. Jardin d’Acclimatation: Lanterns and Dragons

December 15, 2023-February 25, 2024

Entrance to Jardin d'Acclimatation's Festival Dragons and Lanterns

The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a 19-hectare amusement park located in the Bois de Boulogne where I run sometimes [Post: Where To Go Running In Paris]. It is right next to the modern art museum, Fondation Louis Vuitton [Post: Fondation Louis Vuitton In Paris Love It Or Leave It?].

The theme for the festival is Lanterns and Dragons, celebrating Asian culture throughout. You enter through an illuminated Paifang (archway/gate), similar to what is seen at the entranceway to Chinatowns. One follows the light trail, discovering colourfully illuminated dragons, lanterns, temples, flowers, and animals (ie. pandas).

Lanterns at Jardin d'Acclimatation

Two activities highlighting Chinese culture included making red prints with Chinese characters and symbols and the Chinese dumpling demonstrations. Very timely as Chinese New Year is February 10, 2024. Food was available for purchase and in addition to the wide variety of pretzels and galettes, there was Chinese food.

Making Chinese red prints
Making Chinese dumplings

I booked tickets for this illumination when I was in Paris and I stayed for about 2 hours.

Lanterns and Dragons at Jardin d’Acclimatation ran until February 25, 2024.

  • Audience: adults and children
  • Price of admission: 18 €
  • Address: Bois de Boulogne, Rte de la Porte Dauphine à la Porte des Sablons (16th arrondissement)

2. Parc Floral de Paris: L’Odyssée Lumineuse (Luminous Odyssey)

November 28, 2023-January 7, 2024.

[L’Odyssée Lumineuse also took place in Limoges and Le Mans in 2024]

Dragon at the entrance to L'Odyssee Lumineuse at Parc Floral de Paris
Gingerbread house and Christmas decorations at Parc Floral de Paris
Snap dragons at L’Odyssée Lumineuse, Parc Floral de Paris

The light show at Parc Floral was my favourite. Located within the Bois de Vincennes, this park covers an enormous area (28 hectares). Your walk takes you through the park and botanical garden where you encounter varied presentations, which makes things interesting.

The whole atmosphere and mood were dark (obviously) and mysterious, thanks to the fog and mist that was ever-present. The organizers added in a re-creation of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) and they did a great job. 

Throughout the park, there were over 1000 illuminated characters with Christmas lights and trees, elves, teddy bears, animals, plants, and flowers. I was particularly impressed with the illuminations that were made to look like bamboo fields—with the leaves swaying in the wind. And I loved the colourful globes and the large Chinese dragon.

Everything was very well done, including a performance by two artists, who created images using shadow puppets with their hands.

Shadow hand puppets at L’Odyssée Lumineuse

Doors opened at 5:30 pm. I stayed about 2 hours. The festival ran from November 28, 2023-January 7, 2024. Parc Floral is located opposite Château of Vincennes. It’s easy to get to via the Paris Metro.

  • Audience: adults and children.
  • Price of admission: 13 €
  • Address: Rte de la Pyramide (12th arrondissement)

L’Odyssée Lumineuse took place in two other locations:

  • Limoges (at Jardin Botanique de l’Evêché) from February 16 to March 3, 2024.
  • Le Mans (at Parc Theodore Monod) from February 23-March 10, 2024

3. Jardin des Plantes de Paris: “Jungle en Voie d’Illumination” (Jungle In The Process Of Enlightenment)

November 22, 2023-January 21, 2024

Illuminated elephants at Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Located in the 5th arrondissement, the 400-year-old Jardin des Plantes has a 28-hectare botanical garden and is known as the headquarters of the National Museum of Natural History (Muséum National d’histoire Naturelle). There are various museums on site as well as a zoo and greenhouses. My favourite museum is the Grand Gallery of Evolution [Post: Must-See In Paris: The Grand Gallery Of Evolution].

The festival of lights at this park is one of the most popular due to its central location. 2023 was the 5th year for the light show and it focussed on jungle animals and tropical forests. On either side of the pathways of the Jardin des Plantes, there were gigantic statues of animals and plants that were brightly illuminated. It was like walking through a comic book, but better!

Walking through Jungle en Voie d’Illumination

Some of the creatures move, like the enormous snake that opens and closes its jaws. It greets you as you walk through the tunnel which is created by the snake’s vertebrae.

Snake tunnel at Jungle en Voie d’Illumination, Jardin des Plantes

I arrived at 7:15 and stayed about 2-1/2 hours. It’s easy to get to via the Paris Metro. This Jardin des Plantes festival ran from November 22, 2023, to January 21, 2024.

  • Audience: adults and children.
  • Price of admission: 18 €
  • Address: 57 Rue Cuvier (5th arrondissement)

If you’re wondering whether you should travel to France in the off-season like in December or January, read on: Should You Stay or Should You Go….To France in Off-Season?  

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  1. Jan, your Christmas trip has been added to my bucket list – it all looks magical, and delicious. Thanks so much for the inspiration and really valuable travel tips!

    1. That’s super. I hope you do get there soon! There was certainly more to see than I expected.