This past weekend, we experienced our first Luxembourg National Day. Though the date is the Grand Duke’s official birthday, it is not technically anyone’s actual birthday. The date for the celebration has actually changed several times since the 19th Century, with the current date of 23 June set in stone in 1961. The only frame of reference for this celebration I have as an American is our own Fourth of July, but that isn’t entirely accurate. While both holidays share country pride and fireworks in common, there was an entirely different feel to this weekend’s party.
The Luxembourgish pull out all the stops with this. I had been accustomed in the US to random, small gatherings of people for barbecues and then perhaps communal viewing of fireworks. This, however, was one big city-wide party. The streets were blocked off. Enormous speakers were hung from buildings and bridges. Vendors set up along the major thoroughfares during the early evening, their intention to sell food and beer throughout the evening. The fireworks show set up near a bridge over the Petrusse River lasted longer and was more magnificent than many I had seen in the US. And when the fireworks were over (at around midnight, as it doesn’t currently even get dark here until after 10), the real party began. People spilled out into the streets, standing shoulder to shoulder. Music blared from every corner. People drank. People danced.
Though we are now at an age where we can be ready to head home after a couple of beers and the clock striking midnight, my partner and I stayed out with friends until around 3AM. Or at least I’m etimating that’s when we left for home (in such a state, these things can rarely be confirmed accurately). What I do remember, is that dawn was not far off and the streets were still packed. The energy was amazing. And–most amazing of all–I came home and went to bed without calling the police on any noisemakers (this is something the 80 year old man inside me has been known to do at times). I too got caught up in the big party!
We had planned on strolling around and starting the party earlier, but the weather was a bit colder than we expected, so we went home to save our energy. Here are some shots from around town in the afternoon as the crowds started to gather and the vendors were setting up.
We are very fortunate that a couple of our friends here chose their apartment wisely, as they are in a 4th floor (5th floor for you Americans) flat with an amazing view of the Petrusse Valley. We met at their place for drinks and to watch the fireworks, and had a nice time meeting other expats. It may have been at this point that the evening’s events become a bit blurry. Luckily, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time today deleting the hundred or so (yes, over a hundred) photos I snapped that didn’t turn out so well. FYI: taking photos of moving light displays in pitch black when shit-faced would task even an accomplished photographer. But these weren’t so awful.
Following the fireworks, we all ventured over the bridge into city center, and enjoyed the big dance party. I may have had more beer at this point, and actually danced. Luckily, no photos exist of this phenomenon. Here are photos of hundreds of other drunks, though.
On our walk home, we had a fairly clear shot of the super moon, which was a great way to end the evening.