The Schueberfouer is the unmissable event of the summer in Luxembourg. Each year, 2 million visitors enjoy themselves amidst aromas of grilled almonds, fried fish and Gromperekichelcher (potato fritters). As part of this festival, whose origins date back to the Middle Ages, a multitude of rides and game stalls attract the young and old for 3 weeks, from the end of August to the beginning of September.
Rides and culinary delights
The Schueberfouer – or simply Fouer – 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, almost two million people visit the 10-acre funfair on the Glacis, where almost 3.5 km 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, sweet stalls, lotteries, shooting ranges, etc. It's a must!
Small stalls with all kinds of merchandise 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 and from magic tin-openers to old-fashioned CDs.
As usual in funfairs, food and drink are a highlight. The Fouerfësch is an absolute must. It is whiting cooked in a beer batter, generally served with chips, beer or a lesser dry wine from the Moselle.
If you are not a fan of fish or if you prefer to eat while you take a stroll, you will find other options to your liking: you can find any grilled food that is generally served at popular festivals in Luxembourg, as well as stalls offering foreign specialties.
The sheep procession
On the Sunday morning of the funfair (Kiermessonndeg), musicians wearing the blue smocks of 19th-century peasants make their way through the streets of the city, blowing into their instruments as they follow a shepherd and a little flock of sheep with ribbons. . 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.
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) served in one of the Fouer stands.
Autumn is knocking at the door
"Oh mei, t'ass scho Fouer!" (oh dear, the Fouer is already here) - this is a slightly melancholic expression that can often be heard in Luxembourg, when the first rides are set up on the Glacis. Indeed, the opening of the Fouer is the harbinger of the end of both the summer and holidays, and during the fireworks that bring the event to a close, many onlookers already wear a jacket against the colder weather.
A tradition from the Middle Ages
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 was founded in 1340 by John I of Luxembourg (known as 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 objects were sold, used to last eight days. Nowadays, the fair normally lasts for 3 weeks around St Bartholomew's Day (23rd 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.
(Source: Josy Braun in A propos ... des fêtes et traditions)