Every year in January, Lucerne hosts a bright festival of lights. Here, artists from all over the world create spectacular light shows, giving a new face to the city's buildings and main monuments. This is an opportunity to experience the city of light and its charm even during the cold winter months.
Situated on Lake Lucerne and surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery, Lucerne is a perfect synthesis of all that Switzerland has to offer its visitors and, also for this reason, is a must for those visiting the country for the first time. The small, hospitable and decidedly people-friendly town has a characteristic old and well-kept historic centre, an elegant lakeside promenade and numerous attractions not to be missed and is perfect all year round. In this article we have told you about the city and we have listed the must-sees for a first trip here. But even in winter, the city offers many opportunities for leisure and entertainment, through interesting culinary experiences and first-class events such as the crazy city carnival and LILU, the festival of lights that amazes the city and its visitors in the first weeks of January. And it is this festival that we want to talk about today!
Arriving by train
Lucerne can be easily reached by train from Switzerland’s main cities and neighbouring countries. From the main station in Zurich, a direct train takes about one hour to the city. From Basel, the direct train takes about an hour and twenty minutes, while from Bern, the journey can take about an hour or an hour and a half, depending on the train chosen. Travellers coming from Geneva can also opt for a direct train, but it takes about three hours via Bern. Finally, visitors coming from Lugano will have to travel for about one hour and forty-five minutes.
In addition, the city is well connected to northern Italy, with direct and fast connections from Milan, Padua and Venice, with the need to change trains in Arth-Goldau.
The main station is located right in the heart of the town, on the shores of the lake and all the LILU installation can be easily reached by foot.
Tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB app and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
Lucerne can of course also be reached by car via the excellent motorway network that connects it to the main Swiss cities. From Zurich it takes about 45 minutes to reach the city on the A4 and A14. From Basel and Bern, the car journey takes just over an hour and fifteen minutes via the A2 motorway and the A1/A2 motorway from Bern. From Geneva, it is advisable to pass through Bern and follow the above route, for a total travel time of about three hours. Finally, from Lugano, the city of Lucerne can be reached in about two hours via the A2 and the Gotthard tunnel.
The city offers many paid parking areas, some of which are in the centre or in the immediate vicinity. As always, we recommend that you arrive here by public transport and leave your car at home – you won’t need it in the city! And leaving it parked in a pay car park would really be a waste of resources! However, at this link (in German) you will find a map of the city’s car parks, their current availability and their websites.
LILU – Lucerne Light Festival
The Lucerne Light Festival was born in 2018 with the aim of making the city of Lucerne even more fascinating and attractive during the cold winter months. Since that first festival, held in January 2019, several years have now passed and, after the forced break in 2021 due to the pandemic, the light festival is back this year richer and more sparkling than ever! Many light installations have been located in different points of the city. Moreover, many events and concerts have taken place, during which important Swiss and international artists have performed immersed in a world made of lights and colors.
The Lucerne Light Festival took place from January 6 to 16 inclusive. Therefore, for eleven days, has been possible to admire the installations around the city every day from 18:00 to 22:00.
Choose warm clothes, from head to toe! Temperatures are quite low these days!
Plan enough time for your visit: city and festival deserve much time as you can!
Light installations are precious and delicate! So watch them as long as you want, take as many photos as you like but please don’t touch them!
Follow the anti-pandemic rules and wear a protective mask in crowded places!
The light installations
For 2022, the Lucerne Light Festival has offered more than 20 light installations, all freely accessible every day from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. The tour through the heart of the old town and parts of the Seepromenade – the lakeside promenade – has been of about two hours. Many of the installations were true shows: short stories projected onto the facades of the city’s main monuments to the rhythm of music. Other shows were interactive, such as “Jump!” in the Kornmarkt, where visitors were able to interact with the show by jumping on a trampoline, or “Chamäle Tuna,” a 6-meter giant chameleon tuna that changed color depending on the clothes worn by the visitors.
In short, there was something for everyone! Here is a map of all the installations.
The indoor shows
The Lucerne Light Festival has also offered musical performances accompanied by magnificent light effects! Two shows has been planned for 2022: “Refrakto”, which has taken place in the Casino, and “Wonders”, which has taken place in the Hofkirche.
“REFRAKTO’ was a show by the Danish artist collective Vertigo that has combined music, light installations and laser mapping.
“Wonders” has been a tradition at the light festival: every year in the renaissance setting of the Hofkirche, the Zurich-based artist collective Projektil puts on an exciting and unique light and sound show. This year the show has offered a unique journey around the world through some of the great architectural wonders such as the Sagrada Familia, the Sistine Chapel, Angkor Wat or Notre Dame.
On some evenings, the show has also featured musical accompaniment by Swiss and international artists or the church’s impressive organ.
Both shows has required the prior purchase of an entrance ticket.
If you’re planning to visit the Lucerne Light Festival, why not take advantage of a weekend in the city? Lucerne has so much to offer even in winter, and the Light Festival makes the city even more fascinating and pleasant. In this article, you’ll find a suggested itinerary and the main highlights of a weekend in the city of light!
Guests who decide to stay in one of the city’s hotels will receive the Visitor’s Card, which allows free use of buses and trains within zone 10 and a number of valuable discounts on cable cars, mountain railways, museums and excursions. The card also gives you access to “Free WiFi – Luzern.com” hotspots throughout the city. You can find all the information here.