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Schueberfouer – the city's famous fair explained

Schueberfouer – the city's famous fair explained

1 by Sarita Rao 3 min. 14.08.2022 From our online archive
A traditional folk fair, with a 681-year history. It started as a market but today is so much more, and returns in full swing in 2022
A parade of sheep and musicians playing the Hämmelsmarsch marks the official opening of Schueberfouer
A parade of sheep and musicians playing the Hämmelsmarsch marks the official opening of Schueberfouer
Photo credit: 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 is from 19 August to 7 September, and for the first time since the pandemic, celebrations will be back in full swing (details below). 

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 by local sculptor Wil Lofy who passed away last summer. 

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

What’s happening this year?

Luxembourg's largest funfair will again run daily from late August to early September at the Champ du Glacis, over a 4 hectare site. 

The official opening is on 19 August at 17.00 when everyone is invited to follow the Hämmelsmarsch (sheep march) around the stands and rides. There will be a Family Day on 24 August and tickets for rides will be half price on 7 September from 12.00 until 20.00, whilst the fair will close with its traditional fire work display. 

All the usual rides will be there plus a few new ones, and you can grab a bite to eat served up by a mayor from Luxembourg on 23 August. The fair will be open seven days a week from 12.00 until 01.00. 

You can catch the spirit of Schueberfouer in this video: 

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