Saturday, October 1, 2011

La Nocturne des Coteaux à Liège

a.k.a. my favourite night of the year in Liège! :o)

This is one of the times I miss being in Liège,  what I consider to be the most awesome night of the year in that city! When the oldest part of the city and the hillside gardens and forest that lead up to the old Medieval walls are all glowing with candles and lanterns and music fills the air! In honour of that I'm adapting and reposting a post I wrote two years ago on my other blog.

Since 1993 the first Saturday in October is the "La Nocturne des Côteaux de la Citadelle" in Liège. I think I've been 4-5 times (I lose count), I chickened out one rainy year and then another when it was too "damp" (threatening to rain) and I had a nasty cold

I enjoyed the main website's description so I think I'll just paste it here (pix are all mine):
At the heart of the oldest quarters of the city...
Liège by night....
On the slopes...

For one enchanting evening Liège reveals itself as you have never seen it before. During the Nocturne, back streets, courtyards, steps, terraces, pathways, fields and orchards are accessible for all to see. Subtle lighting, music, entertainment and an atmosphere of celebration await at every turn.
With their 60 monuments, 5 listed sites, and 28 ha of well preserved green spaces, the Coteaux de la Citadelle, the slopes of the citadel, are a unique reminder of the ancient landscape of Liège.
On a mild October evening, a unique opportunity to wander and discover these little known walks softly lit up by over 15,000 candles and other lights. Musical and theatrical events take place throughout the evening, and many places open their doors to the rest of the world.
Every year an increasing number of heritage lovers, curious visitors, and people looking for that very special atmosphere, discover the Nocturne’s magic. Whether a loyal nocturne visitor or newly attracted to the concept, this is a chance for everyone to enter a place of magic and surprises, a backstage to the city of Liège.
To say it's quite enchanting would be an understatement! Candles, lanterns, braziers... professional musicians, amateurs... everything from classical music to folk to rock to heavy to electric. Marionette shows, street theatre and a fabulous fireworks show to wrap it all up at 23h30!

So, what say you? Ready for an eerie walk through gardens and alleys and cobblestone streets lit only by a multitude of candles?

Ok then! Follow me! (remember you can make the photos bigger by clicking on them)

We'll start by walking past City Hall...

and just quickly peek in at all the people waiting for the weddings that are about to take place...

but we walk on towards our main destination, keeping a brisk pace because we're running late. Late? But this lasts for hours! Perhaps, but the staircase up the mountain is open to the public at 21h30, and it's now 21h25 so if we want to get a decent picture before all the people mess up the pattern... Whew! Made it!

No matter how I tried and I couldn't seem to get a picture to do it justice (now that I finally have a tripod, I'm not in Liège!).

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

look up!

This year (2009) I'm taking a new (for me) route up the mountain, up the narrow alleys (that photo above during the introduction) and through the public gardens. Previous years I've walked up the stairs or gone through the woods (very creepy!) but this time since I'm alone (and don't have to worry about getting separated from a group) I thought I'd risk the third and very crowded option:

Our route takes us through several (usually) private gardens where bars are set up and people drink beer and talk

but I don't stop until I walk through the gate that leads into the gardens


I love looking out across a city at night!

Even the ugliest buildings (this is the biggest eyesore in the city) can look lovely:

Hey look! A marionette show!

And a Dixieland Jazz band?!?!?! (my phone is refusing to talk to my computer so I'm having trouble retrieving the video I did of these guys, trust me they were good!)

This classical duet was very sweet!

Remember when I said we were in a hurry to make it to the stairs before the public was let up? Here's why:

An hour later, not much left to see!

Hmmm, are these ghosts?:

Nope, just people (not me, not this year) rushing off to the Explanade St Léonard to see this:

So, I was wondering earlier (not remembering from previous years) if the lights on the stairs are always the same... this answered my question:

2005 (we got there late, people all over the place!)



and to give you an idea of what you're looking at (photo taken by a friend):

Hmmm... looking for those shots made me re-discover / enjoy these (from 2008):

path through the woods (I wished I'd had a flash light!):

the best part of the woods path is at the top with all these mirrors:

and look at this amazing structure!

floating lights?

and my favourite:

(with my sister in 2005)

Hope you enjoyed it! Now let's see who can blow out all those candles? ;o)


  1. Wow, that looks amazing! I'd never heard of this before, but it looks completely magical, I'm quite jealous! (Though I do have fireworks and the Christmas German market to look forward to! :) )

  2. By fireworks do you mean Guy Fawkes night? It's a pity it's on a weeknight or I would have skipped across the Channel this year to see what that's all about! :p

    I'm really looking forward to the German Christmas markets too! Although I'll probably only make it to Aachen which is only a 45' train ride / drive from here...

  3. Yep! I'm not sure I'll make it to the University annual display this year - it's a great event, there's a funfair and nice long firework display. Other local displays usually have a bonfire and sometimes side attractions like candy floss stalls and games. Most towns have a display, though when I was little, we used to just do fireworks in the back garden. It's when the gloves come out (to hold the sparklers) and toffee apples are traditional food.

    Although the 5th November itself is a weeknight, most local displays take place on weekends, as people can get to them more easily, so if you are able to pop over on a weekend near the 5th, you should be able to find one!

  4. Oh and the German Christmas market I go to is actually in Birmingham - it's a genuine German market from Frankfurt though. Prices are very high, but not as high as a flight and hotel in Germany!

  5. I'll have to ask my sister when they're doing the bonfires etc in her neck of the woods... although I'm not sure Harlow is the most exciting place for that. :p

    And prices in your "local" XMas market can't be much more expensive than the real deal... the German markets are GORGEOUS! but the only thing I ever buy is a delicious sausage and a mug of hot wine to clear my nose and warm my hands! lol! (plus for an extra euro I can keep to funky mug!)

  6. Ah yes, gotta love the mugs! Must make sure I am not driving when I go this year (though I usually have a kiddie hot drink if I am).

    Fireworks night tends to be fun wherever you are, and much the same - I used to live in Rugby, which is pretty small and dull, but the local fireworks display came complete with candy floss, burgers, sparklers etc and was always a good night!

  7. I'll bet it is just beautiful and magical.

  8. Hi Chris! Thank you so much for all your comments while I was under the weather and I'll be waiting for your plane to land with mojitos in hand!

    I'll be back to catch up on Fishy Fridays. Missed you!

  9. Cris, I am so pleased you reposted this! It looks absolutely enchanting. I wanna go there!! :)

  10. That is so pretty. What a cool idea! It really makes me want to go there.

  11. Vee, Kim, I'm glad you guys enjoyed it!

    Liège is a city that usually isn't on the tourist map when people go to Belgium... but if you know the right time of the year to go, and what to look for, it has a lot to offer!

  12. This truly is gorgeous. It reminds me of the Christmas displays that exist in Colombia around the 8 of December! People light candles! :) Thank you so much for sharing this.



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