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Palma Cathedral Festival of Light | A complete guide

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What is the Palma Cathedral Festival of Light?

Do you want to see Palma Cathedral in a whole new light? You can do so literally and figuratively! Every year, on February 2 and November 11, the rising sun interacts with the world's largest Gothic rose window. It casts a brilliant, multi-colored reflection of the number eight that aligns perfectly beneath the smaller rose window on the opposite wall. This is known as the Festival of Light! Plan your visit to see the Palma Cathedral come to life before your eyes.

Why should you attend the Palma Cathedral Festival of Light?

  • A rare event: This dazzling display of light occurs only twice a year, when sunlight filters through the intricate stained glass window and gets transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors, forming a perfect figure eight!
  • Short but sweet: The light show itself lasts less than 10 minutes!
  • Capture a photo unlike any other: This is a photographer's dream! The Festival of Light provides a unique opportunity to capture stunning images of the Cathedral in a whole new light (pun intended)!
  • Global media attention: The Palma Cathedral Festival of Light attracts international media attention, for its beautiful kaleidoscopic projection of red, yellow, green and blue lights, which come together to create the figure ‘8’!
  • Cultural significance: The Festival of Light isn't just a visual display; it's a cherished tradition that's celebrated every year! The Festival of Light is as popular as the traditional singing of the Sibil-la on Christmas Eve!
  • Free entry:. Entry is free, and you can access the cathedral through Porta de l'Almoina, the eastern gate.

Palma Cathedral Festival of Light timings

History and symbolism of Palma Cathedral Festival of Light

  • The rose window responsible for the light show was added in the mid-19th century after an earthquake.
  • Palma Cathedral was built on the site of a pre-existing mosque and is oriented to the winter solstice sunrise. (The winter solstice sunrise is the point where the sun rises on the shortest day of the year). 
  • The number eight, created by the sun shining through the rose window, is highly symbolic in Christianity. It represents new beginnings & resurrection as Jesus' appearances after his death and eight people on Noah's Ark, and eternity as referenced in early Christian writings as a time beyond time.
  • Some, including  Art historian Antoni Pons, believe the alignment causing the Festival of Light at Palma Cathedral is purely coincidental, while others see a connection to the underlying mosque's orientation.

Visitor tips for attending Palma Cathedral Festival of Light

  • The light show depends on sunrise, so plan to arrive at 8 am. Remember, the best spot goes to the first ones!
  • Doors open at 7:30 am. So plan to arrive by 8 am latest. You can enter through the eastern gate (Porta de l'Almoina)
  • While there's no strict dress code, cover your shoulders, torso and knees. Keep in mind Palma's mornings in February and November can be chilly, so consider layering up!
  • The light show itself is short, so factor in extra time to explore Palma. You can visit the Old town, the Arab baths, or the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, you can explore the Old town, the Arab baths or the Royal Palace of La Almudaina which is right next to the Cathedral!

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Frequently asked questions about Palma Cathedral Festival of Light

How does the Palma Cathedral festival of light actually work?

The large rose window above the main altar acts like a giant lens! It captures the sunlight and projects a colorful image of the stained glass onto the opposite wall below a smaller rose window, creating the figure 8!

How long does the light effect last?

It doesn't last for very long, the phenomenon occurs for a short period, typically around 30 minutes.

What time should I arrive?

Doors open at 7:30am, but the light show itself occurs between 8am and 9am, depending on sunrise. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.

What happens if the weather is cloudy or overcast?

The Festival of light needs the sun! It's extremely dependent on clear skies and sunrise. If the skies are heavily clouded, the light show might not be visible. Check the weather forecast beforehand!

Can I attend both the February and November festivals?

Yes, both festivals are open to the public! If you enjoy the experience, you should visit as many times as you can!

Is the Palma Cathedral open all day during the Festival?

Yes, the Palma Cathedral remains open for regular visits after the light show has ended. You can buy your tickets here.

Can I attend the festival with children?

Yes, you definitely should! The festival is family-friendly, and children will love the light display.

Is there any specific religious significance to the festival?

While the festival occurs on Christian feast days, many believe it's just a coincidence. The primary focus is on natural phenomena, the primary focus is on the natural phenomenon rather than religious rituals.

What if I miss the light show?

Don't despair! The festival occurs twice a year. Alternatively, you can find videos and photos online. You can even watch Palma Cathedral’s official live stream!