One of these days I'll get around to giving you a proper tour of Liège, but right now I'm just going to talk about what I think is the most awesome night of the year... 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!
So last Saturday (Oct 3rd) was "La Nocturne des Côteaux de la Citadelle" here in Liège, an event that has taken place on the first Saturday of October for the past 16 years. I think I've been 4-5 times (I lose count), I chickened out one year that it was raining and another when it was too "damp" (threatening to rain) and I had a nasty cold.
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, brasiers... 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 try and I can't seem to get a picture to do it justice (must remember to buy a tripod one of these years...)
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
This year 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!
and my favourite:
(with my sister in 2005)
Hope you enjoyed it! Now let's see who can blow out all those candles? ;o)