More than 5,000 Ukrainians arrived in Luxembourg in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of their home country, substantially growing a community that had counted around 2,000 members before the war.
“Luxembourg is a very multicultural country,” said Inna Yaremenko, vice-president of LUkraine, in an interview. Nonetheless, “most people don’t know a lot about Ukraine.”
The first UA Days, a festival of Ukrainian culture, is set to change this. “We would like to present our country in another way, to show how rich and unique our country is, our culture, traditions, our music.”
The line-up includes a photo exhibition in the Hesperange park that kicks off on 3 June and continues until 1 September.
The proper opening event, however, is the UA Days Opening Night: Extravaganza. The evening is organised around artworks by Oleksandr Teterin based on mythical creatures from a 1911 play by Ukrainian writer Lesya Ukrainka. Violinist Vasyl Popadiuk will perform with readings of poetry also on the schedule.
From 7 June to 1 September, visitors can discover artworks by 20th century painter Maria Prymachenko, whose works have been exhibited around the world including in Paris, Warsaw, Montreal and Beijing. Pablo Picasso once called them “beautiful works of a brilliant woman.”
A museum housing the majority of Prymachenko’s collection in Ivankiv was hit by a Russian missile last year; however, museum staff and other volunteers were able to save the art pieces.
On 7 June, there will be a fashion show of Ukrainian vyshyvankas, traditional embroidered shirts that have come to symbolise the resistance and resilience of the Ukrainian people. “Every stitch symbolises a specific letter. By combining the stitches in a design, you can embroider your fate,” explained Olena Klopota of LUkraine during a press conference, presenting the UA Days. A second fashion show will follow on 14 June.
Women and war
The programme continues on 11 June with a talk on Ukrainian women in the war with Irena Karpa, a feminist writer and journalist. The event also includes the screening of Oh, Sister!, a film chronicling the experiences of six women in the war.
Several Ukrainian films will be screened at the Cinémathèque and the Utopia cinema during the UA Days and the grand finale awaits on 15 June, with a closing celebration at Rotondes that will feature short film screenings, an exhibition of anti-war posters, Ukrainian food, and gigs by Kyiv band Xarms and Luxembourg group Rome.
Integrating local talent was important to the organisers, said the LUkraine vice-president. “We are Ukrainians who live in Luxembourg. We want to present out culture but, at the same time, we want to be integrated.”
“People are dying every day”
The UA Days aim to be a show of unity between both countries. “And we wanted also to express our gratitude to Luxembourg, which has done a lot for our country during this year.”
Yaremenko hopes that the festival can grow into something bigger over time. “Our goal is to open a Luxembourg Ukrainian cultural centre. It’s my heart’s project.”
The festival is run by volunteers, including refugees from Ukraine, and most of the events are free, although the association will be accepting donations to pay for its activities in support or Ukraine and Ukrainians in Luxembourg.
While culture is at the heart of the festival, the association also hopes to keep the plight of Ukraine in the spotlight. “It’s been more than a year, and we understand that people are tired from the news. But people are dying every day. The war is still there. We are fighting for all of Europe. Ukraine is on the frontline of Europe in this fight between democracy and dictatorship.”
The full programme and more information are available on uadays.lu