Who doesn’t love a free festival in Luxembourg? It’s a chance to sample quality entertainment and escape standing about in the “pirate park” for hours at a time. Throw in a glass of Crémant, street theatre and live music, and summer suddenly becomes very memorable.
But, and it’s a big but, there are some drawbacks to festival season.
The queue for “frites” is always the longest
When my children say they want “chips” I heave a sigh and send my husband, because you can guarantee that the “twice-fried” frites stand has an enormous queue, as scores of people wait for twenty chips to be cooked twice in a fat fryer the size of a small shoebox.
Then there is the fact that you have to queue to get food coupons first before you can buy anything, creating a system that could rival the ‘contrôle technique’ for unnecessary bureaucracy.
And always make sure you have the right type of ticket. There’s nothing worse than standing in the “frites” line for nearly an hour only to find you actually have a coupon for a waffle (and there was no queue for those).
Three Bofferdings for one Battin
Even though Battin is by far the best beer in Luxembourg, there will be at least three empty Bofferding stands, and the crowded Battin one will sell out of beer just before you get there.
What the F is going on with the music
I’ve noticed as a native English speaker, that over here it is perfectly acceptable to belt out songs filled with swear words and much worse, because they’re sung in English. It’s not necessarily a Luxembourgish thing, the EU school show I witnessed last week included a bunch of 8 year olds hip-hop dancing to a tune which ended with the words “F you”, followed by a slow look of recognition and shock from all the doting parents.
No matter how much “in the background” this music is, if there is swearing your children will hear it and ask questions repeatedly, so that everyone around you will think you’re the family with Tourette syndrome.
Pick your festivals carefully
There is some cracking free entertainment in store if you choose wisely. However, outside of the City limits, some festivals can turn out to be nothing more than a tent selling candles, a bratwurst truck and a bunch of people sharing a field with some cows who are not quite getting into the party spirit.
Everyone else will be there
Anonymity is not an option at the biggest Luxembourg festivals. You can expect to keep bumping into people you know at the clay modelling stand, by the acrobatic display, and in the queue for “twice fried” frites. That means lots of conversations about school, traffic and all the banal trials of life you’ve come to the festival to escape from.
Health and safety
A reason to love festivals in Luxembourg is the complete lack of health and safety.
My children have been given extremely sharp tools to do a spot of woodcarving, stood inches away from a canister of liquid nitrogen, and my youngest was once almost asphyxiated by a baby boa constrictor left around her neck for 10 minutes during a tropical animal display. Our motto as festival parents: “what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.”
No mud, no fuss, just fun
Of course, it might seem as if I am complaining, but I assure you I am not. Who wants to be up to their armpits in mud, spending hours queuing for a portaloo?
Well you won’t have to at a Luxembourg festival. Every last detail is thought through. Park and Ride free “navettes”, food, drinks and ice cream on every corner, ubiquitous bathroom facilities and most things, if not all, free of charge.
All you have to think about is how much fun your family can handle this summer.