This night time medium naturally lends itself to ecclesiastical buildings, stately homes and ruins, and has rapidly become very popular in France where about 50 annual productions take place, principally in the Loire Valley, at the Palace of Versailles and at Les Invalides in Paris.
Essentially the format involves no active participation by actors but a recorded narrative of the history of the building concerned by one or a cast of voices. To this is added music or sound effects as appropriate, all of which is synchronised to lighting effects which provide the visual dimension. Pyrotechnic effects are occasionally included to give added spectacle.
A relatively recent variation is that, rather than the music and narration coming through a concert-like sound system, they may use headsets, such as in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's "Lights of Liberty". This allows an audience to move through a historic district as the show proceeds.
The French Son et Lumière are invariably performed in and around France's historical chateaux, however its performance has not been limited to France; In neighbouring Luxembourg a Son et Lumieres Event that took place in 2007 at the Chateau de Septfontaines can be seen on the Chateau's website Septfontaines In other countries son et lumière has been mounted at the Forum in Rome, and at the Parthenon in Athens. In the USA, the first such presentation took place at Independence Hall, Philadelphia in 1962. Further afield, the first African production was at the Pyramids of Giza at Cairo, Egypt, in 1961, while the first in Asia was the Red Fort in Delhi, India in 1965. Canterbury Cathedral in England featured a Son Et Lumiere in 1965 and more recently in 2005, along with Rochester Cathedral and Castle as part of the European "Cathedrales en Lumiere" project. (LCI Son Et Lumiere