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Schueberfouer – the city's famous fair explained
Tradition

Schueberfouer – the city's famous fair explained

1 by Sarita Rao 4 min. 15.08.2020 From our online archive
A traditional folk fair, with a 680-year history. It started as a market but today is so much more. Even in deconfinement you can enjoy the fun of the fair, just not all in one place
A parade of sheep and musicians playing the Hämmelsmarsch marks the official opening of Schueberfouer Photo: Chris Karaba
A parade of sheep and musicians playing the Hämmelsmarsch marks the official opening of Schueberfouer Photo: Chris Karaba

The last weeks of August usually signify the start of three weeks of adrenalin-filled fun and over indulgence with fried food, also known as the Schueberfouer. Attended by some 2 million people from the greater region, it’s filled with fun fair stands, carousels, roller-coasters, fried fish and gromperekichelcher. This year’s fair was due to be held from 21 August to 9 September, but the main event has been cancelled. Fear not, there are plenty of ways you can still celebrate it and have some fun.

The history of the fair

John the Blind, the Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia founded the fair in October 1340 as an eight-day market to mark Saint Bartholomew’s Day (24 August). It was of great economic importance to the region as Luxembourg held a central place on the road connecting Italy to Flanders. Originally it was the place to buy your pottery and porcelain, cloth and household goods, as well as farming produce and cattle.

Thrill rides and the Ferris wheel are big attractions today Photo: John Oesch
Thrill rides and the Ferris wheel are big attractions today Photo: John Oesch

From the 16th century onwards it became one of the region’s biggest cattle markets and you could buy pigs, goats, sheep and even horses. The fair was originally held on the Plateau Saint Esprit, by the remains of the city’s fortress “Schuedbuerg”, but because the area was narrow, it moved in 1610 to Limpertsberg, north of Allée Scheffer, after a wooded area was cleared to provide the perfect large space.

From the 18th century onwards, it grew to become more than just a market, with concerts, dances, and games of skill. By 1840 the first rides were set up. In 1893 as Limpertsberg became more urbanised and the dismantling of the city’s fortress walls began, Schueberfouer moved to the fields of Glacis. In the early 20th century a Ferris wheel and rollercoaster joined the fair, and a Braderie was also added in 1929.

The name

There are two schools of thought on where the name Schueberfouer comes from. Some say it derives from the original location at Schuedbuerg, which gave it the name Schuedebergermesse, that later became Schueberfouer (Fouer means fair). Others say that it derives from the German word Schober which can mean barn or stack, symbolising where the harvest would be kept, as Schueberfouer was firstly an agricultural and harvest festival.

Kirmes Day

On Kiermessonndeg it’s the tradition for musicians to roam Luxembourg City playing the Hämmelsmarsch or Mutton March. They are accompanied by a shepherd and several beautifully manicured, ribbon-wearing sheep. There’s a fountain in the old town depicting this scene. The music was also played at the opening of the fair, amidst the herd of sheep. The lyrics to the Hämmelsmarch were written by Luxembourgish poet Michel Lentz, and the opening ceremony brings together the musicians, sheep and the Mayor of the City, together with many politicians who are invited for a tour followed by Kiermesham (ham) and Kiermeskuch (cake).

Lämmy the mascot

The Schueberfouer mascot is Lämmy a sheep dressed in the traditional 19th century musicians blue peasant clothing. He was created by cartoonist and artist Emile Schlesser (aka Milli), and he adorns much of the packaging for the goodies you can purchase at the fair.

Schueberfouer treats

Fish fried in beer batter is one of the specialities of the fair Photo: Guy Wolff
Fish fried in beer batter is one of the specialities of the fair Photo: Guy Wolff

Fouerfësch is whiting fried in a beer batter, but revellers also enjoy gromperekichelcher (fried potato cakes), churros (a type of doughnut), toasted almonds and nougat and a glass of Crémant or beer.

There are usually over 200 stalls, stands and rides, including some of the latest thrill rides. The fair also ends with an amazing firework display.

What’s happening this year?

As usual, you can celebrate Schueberfouer online at the government’s intangible cultural heritage site, iki.lu, where you’ll find some fascinating archive footage of orphans visiting the fair in 1936. Unfortunately the main fair will not take place this year.

If you’re missing the rides and the food, don’t worry, the summer festival D’Stad lieft (City Alive) has replaced the Schueberfouer with various free rides and food stalls in a number of locations around the city. These will be available until 13 September.

The Ferris wheel (free with a D'Stad lieft token or 6 Euro per ride, 4 Euro for under 10 years) can be found at the municipal park Kinnikswiss, together with a lounge space, deck chairs and several food stands. There’s also more food trucks in Merl Park and Rue de Strasbourg. Theatre Plage has taken up residence again at Place du Théâtre in the old town, creating a beach atmosphere with a 350m² sand area, deck chairs, umbrellas, a piano, petanque and beach toys.

Across the city classic fairground rides have been set up offering free fun for all ages. You’ll find carousels, bumper cars and other rides at Laval Park, Place de Roedgen, Place August Laurent, Place de la Constitution, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Merl Park, Place Thorn and Rue de Strasbourg. The Villa Vauban will host some fun games like hook a duck.

You can find the full programme of events here. You can catch the spirit of Schueberfouer in this video: 

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