Sound and light show, sound and light spectacle – the French term “Son et Lumière” has established itself in international parlance as a generic term for nocturnal entertainment, which is usually projected onto historically important buildings outdoors. Not surprisingly, as its roots go back to the curator of Château de Chambord on the Loire, Paul Robert-Houdin, who first staged such a spectacle on the buildings of the castle in 1952, with the art of Son et Lumière. Another important project which marked the beginning of this new art form was the show at the pyramids of Giza in the early 1960s. The first show of this kind was staged in the USA in 1962, on the facade of the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and in 1965 in India, at the Red Fort in Delhi. Other countries have also developed their own traditions; Great Britain, Canada, Peru and Colombia.
While actors were often integrated into the projects in the early years, today the focus is on spectacles with high-performance projectors and sound systems – this is mostly due to developments in technology as well as cost considerations
Son et Lumière gets under your skin, it appeals to your senses and has developed into a unique art form. Light and sound, pictures and videos, music and sound effects merge to create a holistic experience, sometimes supplemented by fireworks and water elements, and continuously evolving interactive elements.
Starlight Events (www.starlights.ch) created a new focal point in Switzerland in 2011 with “Rendez-vous Bundesplatz“, and in the following year designed and realized projects on the international stage: in Seoul, in the run-up to Switzerland’s participation in the World Exhibition of Yeoshu/South Korea, and in Port Hercule in Monaco, marking the return of Planet Solar, the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the world.
The nocturnal spectacle was predestined for projection onto historical buildings and manor houses; modern architectural backgrounds have also grown in popularity, especially in France. Today, Son-et-Lumière shows are held regularly at over fifty locations, from Les Baux to Nancy, from Avignon to Strasbourg.
The capital of Son et Lumière is still France: at the beginning of December, Lyon will stage a four-day “Fête des lumières“. Around one million spectators per day admire the Festival of Lights in Lyon.
It depends on many factors. The building itself, its structure, the type of façade, the style and type of show, the technology required and, of course, the duration of the spectacle. A minute costs between 5,000 and 10,000 francs.