Luxembourg is a global financial center bustling with a welcoming international community. During the Winterlights Fest, you’ll have a chance to rub elbows with its multiculti merrymakers. Their smart and friendly attitude makes it easy to spread holiday cheer. Maybe we feel included because Luxembourgers (even the vendors) are polyglots. Most are proficient in English (as well as Luxembourgish, French and German).
No matter what tongue you speak, you’ll have a blast, since the common dialect at the Winter Lights Festival is music.
Schlager in the Square
What’s different about this Christmas Market is that they hold live concerts. LuxCity is a party town, so the vibe is a bit like an après-ski party (minus the chunky boots). You’ll probably be listening to a cover band or schlager. There’s the ubiquitous gluhwein, but for the more discerning, try a Luxembourg Cremant. Then get gemittlech (cozy) by warming up at the many camp fires. To dull the cold (or perhaps the music) grab a dram of Drëpp liquor. My personal favorites are honey-based Hunnegdrëpp or nut-based Nëssdrëpp.
Food at the market is typical fest fare with a Luxembourgish twist: Gromperekichelcher (potato fritters), Boxemännercher (a brioche in the shape of a man), Glühwäin (hot mulled wine, either red or white), and Egg Nogg (sweetened milk, cream, vanilla and rum). Some stands accept cards, but most require cash. Each market offers public toilet facilities that are free and very clean. Actually, all the city’s public toilets are free – here’s the map.
Chrëschtmaart Stänn (Christmas Market Stalls)
The Winterlights Festival has four main Christmas markets in the Old Town. All have food and craft stalls, but each has something a bit special: concerts, carnival rides and craft workshops for kids. See the list below for details.
Ganz schéin Foto Geleeënheet (Instagrammable Hotspot)
Get out your phones to snap a shot of Lux City’s gorgeous gorges. Walk the perched ramparts of the Chemin de la Corniche promenade for the stunning viewpoint of deep gorges cut by the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers.
Tip: Use the free bus system loops through the city: Hop on, hop off, snap and post deng foto as they say in Luxembourgish! (Yes, this tiny country has its own bizarre language, which of course has multiple dialects.)
What each market offers:
• Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtmaart at Place d’Armes
Children-friendly with its Christmas tree, nativity, carousel, and train. The food ranges from Calzones to Gromperekichelcher (Luxembourg potato pancake). Thirty-five chalets sell items such as winter gear (scarves, hats, gloves) and holiday decorations.
• Wantermaart at Place de la Constitution
Carnival for the kids with a Christmas pyramid and tree, ferris wheel, carousel, trampoline and carnival games. About forty chalets offer cotton candy, soup, burgers, crêpes, seafood, and (for the furry family members) a pet bakery.
• Niklosmaart at Place de Paris
Smaller market holding concerts in the evening with an hour or two of music starting at 6 p.m. each evening (Sunday at 5 p.m.) with 12 chalets, a Christmas tree, and visits from Saint Nicholas on specific days and times.
• Kinnekswiss Wanterpark
Covered market, crafts programs for children Sundays 2 p.m.-to-5 p.m., with a variety of food and drink stalls. Good option if it is raining.
The Winterlights Festival starts 24 November 2023 and ends 7 January 2024. It’s typically open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
As the wealthiest country per capita in the European Union, Lux citizens enjoy a high standard of living and low crime. Their safe streets are great for families and females, even at night (public service announcement: stay cautious). An additional plus is that prices are not jaw-dropping.
Get out your GoreTex – Luxembourg City is pedestrian friendly, but water-resistant warm clothing are a winter must. Rainfall is frequent with min. temps around -1°C or 30°F.
OK, I am going to be straight – Luxembourg traffic is a nightmare. I lived in Washington D.C., and yeah, LuxCity traffic is worse. I take the train. You can leave your car at a park and ride and take the bus into the center.
Tip: from the parking take the bus into the city center (15 minutes). Did I mention it’s FREE? Parking in the city is NOT free.
The market goes on for six weeks throughout Luxembourg City.
Schéi Chrëschtdeeg! (Merry Christmas)
Read more about Luxembourg here in Dispatches’ archives.
Alice Verberne is a contributing writer for Dispatches Europe. She has worked in print journalism and magazine production in the United States and Europe throughout her career. She currently resides in France where she enjoys visiting former French speaking colonies and discussing history with the locals.