Luxembourg’s culture is heavily influenced by the country’s strong Catholic beliefs with traditional, religious celebrations still a major part of the country’s calendar. Music and film festivals are also common throughout the year, and Discovery Zone and the Summer in the City are popular with both locals and tourists.
Similar to Christmas caroling, on February 2 young children go door to door singing the song of St Blasius, usually carrying a liichtebengelcher (a wooden rod tipped with a small light). Although the custom began as the poor begging for food, kids are greeted with candy or money.
Held on the Sunday after Shrove Tuesday, burning the Buerg is another traditional Luxembourgish custom which has been maintained over the years. The Buerg is a huge bonfire, comprising hay, logs, and brushwood topped with a crucifix. Not unlike Guy Fawks in the UK, it tends to be a community event, complete with tasty servings of mulled wine and barbecued meats.
The most revered religious event on the calendar, Octave is an age-old pilgrimage to Luxembourg Cathedral, dating back to 1666. Over the final two weeks of April, people from all over Luxembourg and regions of Belgium and Germany flock to the capital to honor a wooden statue of the country’s patron saint, St Maria. As the fortnight celebration comes to a close, a procession is held through the streets with the statue.
Local village wine festivals are a great way to get a feel for the real, rural Luxembourg. Usually taking place in the spring, the festivities are centered around music, food, and of course, wine. The whole community comes together for this light-hearted social gathering, tasting the fruits of labor of the local wine makers and gearing up for the summer months.
Discovery Zone Film Festival
The recently launched Discovery Zone Film Festival is an exciting celebration of unique and original flicks and documentaries. In its first year in 2011, more than 4,500 visitors attended the event which showcased the region’s best new films. Located across the capital’s movie theaters and an exhibition space in Ratskeller, the week-long festival held in March is expected to keep attracting more people and garner more prestige.
Although the country’s history as an independent state is relatively short, Luxembourg National Holiday celebrates the rich past of this charming nation. The holiday was officially created in the 19th century on the Dutch king’s birthday; however, upon independence, the event was moved to June 23 by Grand Duchess Charlotte to take advantage of the good weather. The festival traditionally begins with a torch-lit parade past the royal palace in Luxembourg City followed by an impressive fireworks display. The city then transforms into a huge street party with food stalls, bands, and many other forms of jovial entertainment.
Summer in the City
The Summer in the City festival has been running for more 15 years and encompasses a wide-ranging collection of events and concerts. Starting in June and running until September, the festivities are free and include open-air concerts, art exhibitions, music festivals, and street performances. Each year around 1.5 million visitors experience the exhilarating and diverse events from the Blues’n Jazz Rallye to Art Exposition.
This enthralling amusement fair which started as a traditional cattle and flea market is held at the height of summer on August 23. Taking place in Luxembourg City’s Limpertsberg district, the festival is now full of roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and rides to suit all ages. Authentic stalls still remain, selling an array of goods from sweet nougat to household appliances. The closing night also symbolizes the end of summer and is celebrated with an extravagant fireworks display.
Marking the start of the holiday season, Luxembourg City is lit up with a series of colorful and bright decorations covering trees, buildings, and plazas throughout the romantic capital. Switched on at the end of November, the lights bring the city to life with Christmas markets selling traditional handicrafts, sumptuous winter foods like pancakes and soups, and Christmas decorations in squares around the city. This is a brilliant time to visit Luxembourg and immerse yourself in the fun and festivities.