The Bazar International is back
This year the Bazar International de Luxembourg will be smaller – with just 38 stands representing some 50 nationalities, plus a further six stands that will also include books, crafts, second-hand clothes and plenty of places to buy food, plus an additional Friday night opening.
Instead of six to nine months of planning, it was decided just six weeks in advance, that this year's Bazar International would go ahead.
Since then, the seven elected committee members and some 1,500 volunteers have worked non-stop to make it happen. “Planning has had to be fluid, and we had to make decisions on where stands would be placed, without knowing for sure that the event would take place,” says committee president Carmen Decalf.
“Normally, volunteers from each national stand will start work for the next bazaar as early as January, as they need to plan what they will sell and make deals with companies to ensure either a discount or a percentage of revenue will go towards the charitable donation,” she says, adding: “We’ve had to cut costs as we are dealing with a maximum number of visitors that is lower than we are used to, thus resulting in less income for this year’s charities.”
Support to make it happen also came from the Ville de Luxembourg and LuxExpo, the latter providing a home for the bazaar since 1974, but not all nationalities could take part this year, due to the last minute go ahead, which had to take into account Covid Check security and safety requirements. You can find a list of the nationalities that are represented here.
Sustainable, country-sourced crafts
Crafts are often carefully sourced. Decalf highlights the Mongolian stand, which joined just a few years ago, as a good example: “Cashmere is a very popular product, but the Mongolian stand imports clothing from animals living outside, not in cages, in a free environment, experiencing cold winters of up to minus 30 degrees, making the quality of the cashmere exceptional.”
Decorations or special foods for Christmas will also be on offer, and Decalf suggests that those looking to add a sparkle to their festive celebrations should head to the Austrian, Liechtensteiner, Slovak and Scandinavian stands.
“Since the event is Covid Check, people will be able to move freely for a trip around the world, trying food and drinks, buying typical products or second-hand items,” she says.
A multi-cultural meeting point
Decalf points out that communications to volunteers manning each national stand are written in English and French, but the committee includes a Greek, a Spanish, an Italian and a Dutch speaker. “We are always mindful to take into account the different cultures of the volunteers, and how our instructions might be interpreted depending on if you are Nordic, Asian or Latin.”
“More than fifty nationalities and 1,500 volunteers are working together, representing different cultures and religions, without any conflict. The bazaar is run entirely by volunteers, and there is solidarity in providing a multi-cultural meeting point, of which I am very proud to be part. It’s that sense of solidarity that makes the Bazar International so unique,” she adds.
Dhol drummers and a jazz band
Whilst the performance agenda is not finalised, visitors will be able to enjoy hearing Punjabi Dhol drummers (often heard in Bhangra music) on Saturday afternoon, and a jazz band has been confirmed for Sunday morning.
This year for the first time, the public can visit on Friday evening from 18.00 to 21.00, with at least half the stalls confirmed for that evening and plenty of opportunities to eat and drink.
HRH Grand Duchess is expected to visit for a few hours on Saturday to meet some of the volunteers and browse the stands.
Supporting charities worldwide
The Bazar International raises some €600,000 which is divided amongst a plethora of charities, many put forward by the volunteers.
Each stand can propose charities, and the committee will look into the financial impact a donation will achieve. The priority is given to charities that focus on empowering women, children, and families, with an emphasis on safety, education, vocational training and medical care.
“Whilst we make one or two bigger donations, most charities will receive between € 5-7000, so we want to ensure our donation has an impact. In a previous year, we sent €6,000 to finance a school in North Africa. The donation helped 150 children receive books, hot meals and school uniforms so they could attend school for three years, which in turn meant that many young girls did not face an early marriage for financial reasons,” says committee member Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta.
She adds that this year one of the charities will provide solar panels to a children’s hospital which otherwise has issues operating due to electricity shortages. Elsewhere, a school in Uganda that also provides a home for its pupils will receive money, whilst a centre in Portugal gets support to keep kids, in danger of drug addiction, off the streets.
“We are a small organisation so we choose projects based on the impact they will have in their communities. It might be opening a library in Asia, aiding an orphanage in Russia, or charities that support employment in Latin America. We review each project or charity put forward on a case by case basis. Covid has meant that all charities have had fewer donations. This is what drives us as volunteers, to know that the money we raise will have a definite impact,” says Vreeze-Nauta.
Charities from 39 countries will receive donations, including ones in Luxembourg, Afghanistan, Congo, Gambia, India, Mongolia, Nicaragua, and Ireland. You can find a full list of charities by country here.
The Bazar International will take place on Friday 26 November from 18.00 to 21.00, on Saturday 27 November from 10.00 to 20.00 and Sunday 28 November from 11.00 to 18.00 at LuxExpo.
Entry with a pre-booked timeslot is free of charge and each timeslot is for three hours. You can book your advance timeslot here. If you prefer to just turn up spontaneously, you can enter if there is space for €3 per ticket (the money will be donated to charity).
You must present a vaccination certificate, negative test (PCR less than 72 hours, rapid antigen less than 48 hours) or a recuperation certificate, and each must have a QR code. Children aged less than 12 years and 2 months are exempt. Once inside, you are not obliged to wear a facemask, but the organisers ask that visitors wear masks if they are not eating or drinking.
The annual Bazar International has been running for 60 years, but was cancelled in 2020, It attracts visitors from across the greater region. You can read a history of the bazaar here (written in 2010 to celebrate the its 50th anniversary).