Friday, May 20, 2011

7 June Events You Won’t Want to Miss

If you asked me which one month of the year I’d recommend for visiting Luxembourg, it would be June, hands down. The weather is warm, outdoor cafés are bustling with customers soaking up the sun, sausage and beer truck season is well underway, the hiking and biking trails are full of happy people, and there’s an event on the calendar practically every weekend. So, if you happen to find yourself in Luxembourg next month and you’re in the mood for a Luxembourgish folk festival, a street party, a major sporting event or a centuries old tradition, read on for dates, locations and a bit of background…

(Don’t forget, you can look up bus schedules to any of these events by clicking here. Or, check out my previous post about how to get around Luxembourg via public transportation.)

June 1
The Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg is a professional cycling race that started in Luxembourg in 1935. The race is usually held in late May or early June and often attracts big names, from hometown heroes Frank and Andy Schleck to celebrities like Lance Armstrong (whom I almost missed seeing as he flew by last year!), who use it as a practice race in preparation for the Tour de France.

Frank Schleck in a previous Tour de Luxembourg.
Photo from
Whether you’re into cycling or not, the race prologue is the place to be the evening of June 1 if you happen to be in Luxembourg Ville. The prologue is a short time trial lap that is completed to determine who will wear the leader’s jersey on the first stage of the race, which begins on June 2. While there are plenty of places to cheer on the riders (download the route map), the best action takes place on Rue du Marché-Aux-Herbes, right in front of the Royal Palace. Each rider will whip around the corner at Rue du Curé and barrels toward the finish line at the Kneudler (Place Guillaume II). Conveniently, there will be plenty of beer trucks and sausage stands in this area as well, so you can whet your whistle and keep your cheering voice strong while you watch. The prologue begins on June 1 at 7pm, but get there early to get a good viewing spot.

The actual race will take place in four stages throughout Luxembourg from June 2-5 and sixteen teams will participate. Click here to view a map of where each stage will be held. Take note: Frank Schleck will be riding in this race, so don’t forget to order a Schleck Brothers hat, flag or other fan gear in advance…you do want to look the part, don’t you?

June 10-13
Geenzefest (Wiltz Broom Festival) 
The Wiltz Broom Festival – known as Geenzefest in Luxembourgish or Fête du Genêt in French – is a traditional Luxembourgish folk festival held every year around Whit Monday, which falls this year on June 13.

The Geenzefest celebration actually begins the weekend before Whit Monday – so there should be activities, food and drink available if you head to Wiltz on the 10, 11 or 12 – but the main event is a parade/procession that this year will wind its way through town starting at 3pm on Monday, June 13. The parade will end at 5pm, and from what I can gather, looks like it will be followed by music, food, drink and other family friendly activities.

Dating back to 1948, the festival celebrates the broom flower, a flowering yellow shrub that covers the landscape around Wiltz and throughout the Ösling, the wooded area that covers the area bordered by Diekirch, Vianden, Clervaux and Wiltz. In late springtime, the hills are full of this flower. 

A final schedule for the full June 10-13 celebration has not been published online at the time of the writing of this post, so visit as the date gets closer for updated information.

June 11
I can only hope that runners participating in the ING Night Marathon really love running, because they are missing a really, really, really good time by not being spectators. This marathon is a blast to watch!

The buzz in town starts to build on the night before the marathon, with samba bands performing in the Place d’Armes on Friday evening. On Saturday as the race course is set up, the beer, cremant and sausage stands pop up all over town, and by that evening, spectators have started to gather and stake out spots along the race route.  

This year the race will be held on Saturday, June 11 and starts at 7pm. Runners will begin and end at Luxexpo and will wind their way all over town (race course map), past several corners on which samba bands have been stationed to play music that will energize the runners and will make you want to get a bit dancy.

While runners wind their way through the city, the pedestrian area is pretty much a big party. If you go, be prepared to should your loudest “Alleeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzz!” to cheer on the runners. And don’t worry, all of your hard work as a cheerleader will not go unrewarded. There will be plenty of sausages to devour and the beer will be flowing (hey, it’s exhausting for a spectator to cheer on all of those runners!) until things wrap up around midnight.

June 11-12
Truth in advertising: the Diekirch Beerfest is just that. A beer festival, Luxembourg style. This year’s edition will take place on June 11 (9pm-3am) and 12 (11:30am-10pm) in the municipal park. There will be food (sausages, for sure), music and, of course, lots and lots of the town’s most widely recognized claim to fame: Diekirch beer. 

If you read Luxembourgish, you can find a little more information online on the beer festival event page on Facebook. Otherwise, just hop on a bus or a train and head to Diekirch to join the fun, which you should be able to find easily by following the music, your nose or all of the other people headed in the direction of the festival.

June 14
Dancing Procession of Echternach
Every year on Whit Tuesday, thousands of people flock to the town of Echternach to watch or to participate in a pilgrimage that has been documented since the year 1100. The procession honors St. Willibrord, who founded an abbey in Echternach in 698 as part of his efforts to spread Christianity in the region. He was well known for curing epilepsy and childhood neurotic diseases and it is believed that this may have been the catalyst for the growing numbers of people that began to make the pilgrimage to Echternach in later years following his death. The dancing movements are believed to have become a part of the procession in the end of the 15th century, either out of joy or in order to represent the involuntary movements associated with the disease, chorea. They believed that if they imitated these movements, they might ward off the disease.

Today, 12-14,000 pilgrims take part in the procession (8-9,000 of which are dancers). They wear dark trousers or skirts and white shirts, and often a small, colored scarf tied at their neck. The dancers join hands by holding a white handkerchief between them and proceed through the town hopping or dancing to the right and to the left as they move forward. The procession will begin on Tuesday, June 14 at 9am, following a mass and a short speech by the Archbishop of Luxembourg. The participants depart from the courtyard of the abbey, works their way to the town square and then wind through the street to arrive at the gate to the Basilica, which they then enter in order to pay respects to the enshrined remains of Saint Willibrord, which rests in the crypt of the Basilica. The entire procession lasts until 1-2pm. To get there from Luxembourg Ville, take bus 110 or 111 to Echternach and follow the people.

The dancing procession was listed in November 2010 to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and, if you are so inclined, you can download and read Luxembourg nomination form (in English) by clicking here. It’s a very interesting read.

June 19
This annual event actually takes place in Germany, but since it’s so close and such a cool opportunity, I’m including it on the list. Every year on the first Sunday after Pentecost, both sides of the Mosel River are closed to motorized vehicles for Happy Mosel, one of five car-free days offered in Germany’s Mosel region. On this day, only cyclists, pedestrians and rollerbladers are allowed on the street. The 2011 event takes place on June 19, between 9am and 7pm.

For the athletes, the entire route circles 180km along the river…and for the rest of us, the roads are closed but the trains still run – which means that it’s easy to take your bike on board a train and start and end your ride at different points on the tour. As you make your way from town to town, (see the map), you’ll find lots of places to stop for a bite, a beer or for a sample of delicious Mosel wine. Think of it as a really long street party.

To help you get there and back, Deutsche Bahn will run extra trains to shuttle cyclists between Trier and Koblenz from 7:30am and 7:30pm (schedule here). Or, if you prefer cruising on boats to bikes, there’s a schedule for that, too, available here.

Don’t forget: bicycles are always free on CFL trains, so why not take advantage of the 8€ one day Luxembourg Ville to Trier ticket special and take your bike out for a spin down the Mosel?

June 22-23
Luxembourg National Day
Luxembourg National Day began as Groussherzoginsgebuertsdag, or “the Grand Duchess’s Birthday.” It was a celebration to commemorate the birthday of Luxembourg’s beloved Grande Duchesse Charlotte, who reigned from 1919 to 1964. Her birthday was actually January 23, but in 1962 the date of the celebration was changed from January 23 to June 23 because the weather was much nicer five months later in the year. (After all, who wants to celebrate outside, in the cold of winter?) When her son, Grand Duke Jean, took the throne in 1964, the date of the celebration remained the same but the meaning changed and now instead of a birthday celebration, the festivities mark a national day of pride.

And there is so much pride in Luxembourg that the celebrating actually begins on the 22nd. By the time everyone leaves work on that day, stages have been constructed all over town, the sausage and beer trucks are out in full force (naturally) and as the 150,000 people who attend the celebration every year filter into Luxembourg Ville, it quickly becomes the craziest, loudest place you’ve ever seen. When night falls, there is a torchlight procession, followed by a spectacular display of fireworks that are lit above the Pétrusse Valley (you’ll want to find a viewing spot early, the crowds are shoulder to shoulder by the time the fireworks start) and then the music and merrymaking continue more or less until the sun begins to rise. Then, true to form, it’s back to business as soon as daylight hits; by the time you wake up from your beer and sausage induced sleep, the streets will be so clean that you’d never know there was a gigantic party all over town the night before.

In contrast, the actual National Day is a much more sober (in all definitions of the word) affair, with a mass in the morning that is attended by the Grand Duke and Grande Duchesse (this is televised on RTL), a military parade, the firing of cannons and an afternoon of family games and activities. If you’re in the area: don’t miss it!

Have a great time, and if there’s a June 2011 event that I have not included above but that you love and think should not be missed, please let others know by leaving a comment below! For a complete list of all events happening throughout Luxembourg this summer and beyond, check out


  1. Don't forget Aal Dikkrech in Dikirch on the Weekend 9-10th july, an evening beer festival around the old church in Diekirch, a party not to miss.

  2. I can't wait to see your videos and read the recaps from all these fun June events! Looks like we'll need to come in June next time.
    By the way we grilled out sausages yesterday and put the Lux Mutard on them that you brought us - they were so delicious! I had a NA Bitte with it too, of course it wasn't as good as being there but I can pretend!

  3. Jen, I love that you're living your own Luxembourg right in your backyard!!