Blue hour

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For other uses, see Blue hour (disambiguation).
Midtown Manhattan during the blue hour
Praia da Ursa, Sintra, Portugal. A blue hour seascape seen in wide angle

The blue hour (from French l'heure bleue)[1][a] is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late in the dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusibility of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. During the blue "hour" (typically a period about 40 minutes in length), red light passes straight into space while blue light is scattered in the atmosphere and therefore reaches the earth's surface. Many artists treasure this period because of the quality of the light.

Influence in popular culture[edit]

Blue Hour (30s time-lapse) in Braeloch, overlooking Okanagan Lake toward Gellatly Bay
The Colosseum during the blue hour
Blue hour in Paris
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during blue hour
The illuminated mining lamp memorial in Moers during the blue hour
Parliament Building in Budapest during the blue hour

The blue hour is famous for its romantic connotations, particularly in the arts. A colloquial French saying characterises the blue hour as a time of confusion and mystery, since it is impossible to determine whether it is really night or day.

As a result of the perceived specialness of this time, there are various restaurants, theatres and hotels called L'Heure Bleue located worldwide. There is also a women's perfume by Guerlain (1912) of the same name.

In English culture the term was used to describe the period of inactivity and uselessness a drinker encounters when pubs and other licensed premises have closed after the lunch-time session (typically 3:30 pm), but have not yet opened for the evening session (typically 6:30 pm). The blue hour has now been largely abolished in England, Scotland and Wales in favour of all-day opening.


  • L'Heure Bleue is a concept often expressed, in his works and in his thought, by the contemporary artist Jan Fabre[2]




The blue hour is also a common theme in popular music and the subject appears in various songs:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A similar calque la hora azul is used in Spanish.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Verfaillie, Roland (2011), L'heure Bleue, San Francisco: Purple Onion Press, p. 5 .
  2. ^ "Troubleyn Jan Fabre Performing Arts". Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  3. ^ The Junior Encyclopedia of Canada. Volume 5 (S-Z). Hurtig Publishers. 1990. ISBN 978-0-88830-339-4. 
  4. ^ Blue Hour. HarperCollins. 2003. ISBN 0-06-009912-7. 
  5. ^ Gorey, Edward (1983). Amphigorey Also. Fantod Press. ISBN 0-15-605672-0. Contains The Utter Zoo, The Blue Aspic, The Epiplectic Bicycle, The Sopping Thursday, The Grand Passion, Les Passementeries Horribles, The Eclectic Abecedarium, L'Heure bleue, The Broken Spoke, The Awdrey-Gore Legacy, The Glorious Nosebleed, The Loathsome Couple, The Green Beads, Les Urnes Utiles, The Stupid Joke, The Prune People, and The Tuning Fork 
  6. ^ "FRANÇOISE HARDY - Lyrics Pages". Retrieved 2014-04-25. 

External links[edit]