I will be honest. I have never been much of a carnival fan. Every year, growing up in Corpus Christi, Buccaneer Days were the highlight of spring for our small beach town. Folks would head down to the bayfront and enjoy the carnival rides, parades, art exhibits and dance festivals. Personally, I have vague memories of nauseating rides and marching in several of those parades in the Texas heat. So, when I heard that Luxembourg hosts one of the world's oldest fairs each August, I was a bit apprehensive. I knew the kids would have a blast, and being in such a small city in such a small country, I knew this would probably be as close as we would get to a Six Flags. I was also told that to really experience Luxembourg, you HAD to experience the Schueberfouer.
For a week or so we watched the trailers make their way into town. They would arrive in caravans throughout the day (according to my husband, who has a window view of the main street leading into Luxembourg from Belgium). The carnies would work late at night, so that by morning, folks could see the transformation of the area of town just outside of the city center called the Glacis. Our commute between the apartment and the house would have us driving down one of the main streets leading towards the fair, so you could mark their progress based on how the construction was going on the large ferris wheel at the center of the fair grounds. It often felt like we were driving down the street of a movie studio with the ferris wheel peeking out between the office buildings along the way.
As for the history of this event, the fair was founded over 670 years ago by John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg. The fair always begins around St. Bartholomew's day (August 24th) and runs for 20 days. In keeping with its long history and farm origins, the carnival opens with a small parade, led by the city mayor and five sheep. Over the course of time, the fair has grown from a small country fair to a large city carnival, complete with roller coasters, midway, and food. LOTS of food.
Our family ventured out to the carnival with a couple of other families on the first weekend it opened. Our kids ranged from 2 years to 13 years, so I was thrilled to see the diversity of rides and attractions. There was everything from the Crazy Mouse ride and bumper cars, to the "barf machines." You know the ones. The rides that flip folks upside-down and in all directions, or sling them up and down on bungee cords. This ride would not just spin and swing its captive riders hundreds of feet in the air, but would actually make complete rotations, sending folks upside down and screaming. Thankfully, our kids are young, so the roller coaster, ferris wheel and fun house were the choice rides of the day.
I can't mention the fair without mentioning the food. I expected the typical cotton candy, popcorn, fried food choices, but what I loved the most were the cultural influences. There were traditional German sausages and Gromperekichelcher (my favorite - a deep fried potato, onion and parsley pancake), French mussels et frites and crepes, Belgian waffles, and Luxembourg wines and beer. Each of the stands was a brightly colored display of sugar with charming vendors dressed in their themed carnival garb. The kids loved the large cone of funnel cake sticks (think small churros if you are from Texas), served with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce. However, I think the husbands preferred the German beer stands (although they did their fair share of wolfing down the churros!)
Though we haven't made it back in the evenings, I have been told the clientele changes to a more adult crowd at night. The fair provides plenty of pub-like options with the various beer and wine booths scattered throughout the grounds, not to mention rides that provide a gorgeous evening view of the city. Besides, what could possibly be better than a 360 degree view of the city from the dizzying heights of a ferris wheel :)