If you want to catch the city at the peak of activity, you may want to plan your trip to Lyon around a number of festivals that make the city come alive and capture the culture and creativity of its residents.

Though there is a festival nearly every day during the summer, Les Nuits de Fourvière has, for decades, stood out for its eclectic program and its young, international crowd. From mid-June to early August, the festival brings modern music, dance, opera, drama and cinema to Lyon’s ancient Roman stages.

Another favorite, the Festival of Light illuminates the streets and winter sky of the historic city with thousands of brightly colored lights adorning its historic homes and buildings. Originally a religious event, the festival has in recent decades evolved into a more secular celebration of the city’s culture and people, as well as its spiritual side. Every year on December 8, the illuminations, musical programs and theatrical events draw thousands of visitors for the three days festival, and the city offers events like night cruises to make sure every traveler can catch a glimpse of Lyon at its most beautiful. But even if you can’t make it for the festival, you can still see the lights—in 1989, the city initiated a unique nightly illumination scheme which showers light on nearly 200 of Lyon’s most significant sites.

But perhaps Lyon’s most famous festival is the Biennial Dance Festival, an event that transforms the city into the world’s dance capital for a few weeks in September. The festival attracts the globe’s most talented companies for a wide range of shows and public celebrations.