Luxembourg traditions: Things got off to a damp start on National Day Eve, but it’s hard to keep a good festival down.
Photo: Steve Eastwood
Talk about raining on a parade. Or an entire holiday festival. Monday’s ill-timed deluge caused a bit of worry for National Day Eve celebrations, but those who braved the elements still managed to pull off some smiles.
While Tuesday was the Grand Duchy’s official National Day, the night before is traditionally marked by a huge street party and fireworks display, called “Duke’s Night” by Luxembourg’s international community.
Asked on Monday evening if it was a little wet out, Anne-Laure of the not-for-profit RIFF replied: “A little?!” The group, which promotes cultural diversity by holding workshops and events, shared a stand on the place Clairefontaine with Food For Your Senses, a likeminded outfit best known for putting on the Food For Your Senses Festival. As the evening got underway, she said: “We don’t count on so many people [coming] and that’s a bit disappointing.”
The two organisations were there: “to raise some visibility and some money, as we will have a concert on 21 November in Rotondes and Food For Your Senses will have its festival [renamed “Capital Sounds”] in Rotondes [the weekend of 24-26 July], so we are both here to promote our associations and to help to make the city more enjoyable.” At the same time there was a spirit of solidarity at the booth: several stand volunteers who were meant to have already gone home decided to stay there and stick it out with their comrades.
Chance to get the word out
“Yesterday was fine and today, no”, said Daniel of Rokku Mi Rokka. The charity aids handicapped children and adults in Senegal, where it runs four schools, workshops were adults are employed, a children’s residential shelter and daycare centre, and a medical clinic. The group was selling handmade crafts to help underwrite its activities. “The things we are selling were all made in our workshops in Senegal, and we’re selling Senegalese cocktails, made with Senegalese juice” that is produced by a women’s cooperative in the country. Rokku Mi Rokka is run entirely by around 40 active volunteers and supported by some 300 members.
Promoting his new pop-up restaurant at the next stand over was Fabrizio Annicchiarico of Food Porn Sessions. “I’m just making vegan and vegetarian food. I’m just trying to bring something different to the landscape of these kinds of events in Luxembourg, because normally you have sausages and fries and stuff like that. But for example one of the main products [here] is gnocci with truffles.”
After working in the financial and real estate sectors for 20 years, he started Food Porn sessions a few months ago. He had just come off the Fête de la Musique and is booked at events like Rock-a-Field every weekend through October. So did Monday’s rain get him down? “This is the risk of the business” but he had to get his name out there anyway.
Should I stay or should I go?
Francisco and Anello from Mexico sheltered under a tent on the place Clairfontaine, listening to the groovy Feasant Pluckers. The two were on a business trip in nearby Germany and had made a brief excursion into Luxembourg City, originally “just for a couple hours”, said Anello. “We didn’t know about the festival, but we arrived here and saw the festival and we wanted to enjoy the music, the food, the beers,” said Francisco. As things turned soggier, they were weighing up whether or not to return to Trier, or stay a bit a longer. In the end, they stuck it out for a bit longer, hoping the rained would thin out and the crowd would turn up.
At least the rain did not cause one perennial highlight to be cancelled. “Fireworks always feel magical,” Wendy Winn, a Delano contributor, said just after midnight. “Beautiful display tonight in Luxembourg City. Happy National Day, Luxembourg!”