Every evening the Eiffel Tower lights up within 10 minutes of sunset – the iconic golden lights are triggered by a sensor system designed to follow the daily light change rather than a certain time. Then every hour following sunset, Parisians and tourists alike stop and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle! Seriously, no matter how many times you’ve visited or how long you’ve lived in Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle remains a magically nostalgic moment.
Here are all the details you need to make sure you get to the chance to see the magic happen as often as possible while in Paris:
How to calculate the first sparkle of the evening
The Eiffel tower sparkles the first five minutes of every hour following sunset until 11:45. For example, if sunset is at 5:24, the first sparkle, also called Eiffel Tower light show or Dame de Fer will occur at 6 PM. In the summer when the sun sets after 7 PM, the first sparkle would occur from 8:00-8:05 PM. This means that a benefit to visiting Paris in January or February is more chances to watch Lady Eiffel sparkle each night!
Why does the Eiffel Tower sparkle?
The nighttime gold lighting and oscillating Eiffel Tower spotlight were installed to light the way for visitors and allow nighttime operation within the actual tower structure. The hourly sparkle has run every evening since the beginning of 2000, just in time to ring in the new millenium. Engineer Pierre Bideau said he was inspired to create the illusion of flashing camera lights by placing orange hued sodium lamps onto 336 large projectors so that the tower is literally lit from within. There are 20,000 lightbulbs in total, which the City of Paris replaced recently to a low energy bulb to reduce the light show’s carbon footprint.
When is the last Eiffel Tower sparkle each night?
Every hourly sparkle is magical, but the final sparkle at 11:45 PM remains unique. Every night at 11:45, the golden lights that illuminate the Eiffel Tower throughout the evening hours shut off and you are left with remarkable “camera flashes” that last for 10 minutes rather than the hourly 5, then disappear into the night sky at 11:55. The Eiffel Tower lights completely turn off for the night at the end of this sparkle show. Equally magical and eerie, make plans to stay up and watch this spectacle at least once during your stay!