The Schueberfouer dates back to 1340; it is the biggest funfair in the Grand Duchy and the Greater Region. Each year, in late August and early September, nearly two million people visit the 4-hectare funfair on the Glacis, where nearly 3.5km of funfair rides and other attractions are on offer. A unique mix in Europe of 200 attractions, including 25 gigantic high-adrenalin rides, more than a dozen attractions for young children, nearly as many restaurants and a host of brasseries, sweets stalls, lotteries, shooting ranges, etc. It's a must!
What is now a funfair was originally a market, but no-one really knows how it got its name: perhaps from the old name for the Plateau du Saint-Esprit, the Schadebourg, where it used to be held, or from the word 'Schober' (literally; stack), since the fair was held on St Bartholomew's Day, at harvest-time. The 'Schueberfouer' (or 'Fouer') was founded in 1340 by John I of Luxembourg (called John the Blind), Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia. That is why the fair’s stallkeepers erected a monument in his honour in the nearby municipal park.
In bygone days, the market, where cattle and all sorts of other things were sold, used to last eight days. Nowadays, the fair normally lasts for three weeks around St Bartholomew's Day (23 August). Over the years, the market has gradually turned into an entertaining funfair or 'Kiermes', with the cathedral’s patronal festival taking place during the 'Fouerzäit'.
Today, the Fouer is held on the Glacis car park in Limpertsberg. It hosts a funfair boasting every kind of ride: switchback rides, ghost trains, ferris wheels, tip-up rides, and many more. Small stallholders can still be found lining the Allée Scheffer, where all sorts of items can be purchased, from nougat to grilled almonds, from Central African ebony sculptures to whisks, to magic tin-openers, to old CDs.
Like at any funfair, food and drink take centre stage, and one specialty deserves a particular mention: 'Fouerfësch' is whiting cooked in brewer’s yeast, traditionally eaten with chips and washed down with a beer or a glass of dry Moselle wine.
A word about the 'Hämmelsmarsch': early on the Sunday morning of 'Kiermes'-Day, musicians wearing the blue smocks of 19th-century farmers make their way through the streets of the capital, playing their instruments as they follow a shepherd and a little flock of beribboned sheep. As money is collected, the same tune is played over and over again — the 'Hämmelsmarsch', an old popular tune for which the Grand Duchy's poet Michel Lentz wrote lyrics. The march can also be sung.
And of course the shepherd, his sheep and the musicians all attend the ceremony when the mayor declares the Fouer open. The ceremony is followed by an inaugural tour of the fairground by the country’s politicians, both present and aspiring, as they mingle with the crowds. This concludes over a platter of 'Kiermesham' (ham) and 'Kiermeskuch' (cake) at one or other of the Fouer stalls.
Despite all the hype and entertainment, there is also a melancholy feel to the Fouer. When in early September, the rides start being taken down and the steel skeleton of the traditional ferris wheel starts to unravel in the city’s skyline, the sad truth always dawns that summer is drawing to an end. And by the last day of the Schueberfouer, when the Freedefeier(closing fireworks) fill the night sky, the swallows can already be seen gathering on the overhead wires.
(Source: BRAUN, Josy. 'Traditions and festivals' in: Lëtzebuerg. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Information and Press Service. 2007.)