Local traditions: Luxembourg’s beloved summer funfair improves with age.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
For the past 675 years, Luxembourgers have been capping off their summers with a party worthy of nearly seven centuries of tradition. It all started in October of 1340 when John the Blind, the count of Luxembourg and king of Bohemia, initiated a local festival to commemorate the feast of St. Bartholomew.
The event was ushered in by a parade of farmers and sheep that made their way through the fairgrounds as a band played “The Hammelsmarsch” or the mutton march--a tradition that continues to this day. For about 450 years or so, the fair was an important market in the region for agriculture, livestock and other domestic goods.
At some point in the 18th century, shows and games became part of atmosphere, which gets a bit more sophisticated with each passing year.
Food and fun
Today, there’s a giant Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, a haunted house and nearly 200 other attractions, including high adrenaline rides that will throw you in the air, spin you around and drop you from unreasonable heights. For the less adventurous, there are plenty of games offering a variety of prizes to would-be winners.
And there’s food: in addition to mainstream fare, the brasseries and sweets stalls serve local cuisine like Fouerfësch (hake cooked in beer yeast and eaten with chips and a dry Moselle), Gromperekichelcher (potato fritters served with apple sauce), Kiermesham (ham) and Kiermeskuch (raisin bread). “The variety is amazing. You can drink a glass of Champaign or a local beer,” said Samantha Gordon, an American expat.
During these special three weeks, it seems like everybody comes to Schueberfouer. Indeed, the fairgrounds are a common meeting place; many companies send busses of their staff to midday events and the city runs shuttles from the surrounding areas. Kids connect with their friends before the start of a new school year, colleagues go there after work to take in the remainder of summer’s warmth, locals carry on their tradition and tourists experience Luxembourg at its finest.
“It takes over for three weeks”
“It’s quite retro,” said Eve O’Callaghan, an Irish expat. “It’s an interesting juxtaposition to what we know of Luxembourg. I like how, once its on, if you arrange to meet someone for a drink, you’ll go there instead of to the city. It takes over for three weeks.” Nowadays, about two million people attend each year.
Another of the festivals many charming features is the special days that take place: on the Day of Mayors, mayors from Luxembourg and the Greater Region serve diners in the fair’s various restaurants. The Day of Queens brings out the most beautiful girls in their formalwear--which they don on the rides. There is a religious service for the showmen who come from all over Europe and on the last day prices are reduced to half.
The closing ceremonies always feature a fireworks display that is bittersweet for those who have come to love the fair: the dazzling lights will soon be extinguished and it will be time to go back to work. But there will always be next year…