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Celebrating National Day in Luxembourg

I’ve been to Luxembourg before.

Ok, I admit it, it was merely a petrol stop on the way from Greece to Belgium

My real visit to Luxembourg came more recently when I went on a Benelux rail journey that also took me to Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and The Hague.

Station, Luxembourg

This time, I was in the city for just over a day.

My journey coincided with the city’s National Day, 23rd June, which was the duchy’s official birthday.

In many respects, it was the most and least Luxembourgish time to visit the city.

This was a day when the Duchy really celebrated its national identity (an incredibly European one) but it was also the day when many of its neighbours from France, Belgium and Germany came to visit.

Of course that was the thing about Luxembourg – it was surrounded on all sides and has adopted its neighbours’ languages and cuisine. Luxembourg has three official languages: French, German and Luxembourgish (which I think is a little influenced by Dutch). On the food side, most people say it is Germanic but you can also see lots of classically French techniques on the plates.

A day, I found, was just enough to walk around the historic Luxembourg city. In that time, you could leisurely explore everything from the fortresses and Petrusse Casemates to the palace and the Pfaffenthal.

As the day went on, more and more people gathered in the historic city and by night it was heaving with barely space to move.

The palace was the place to be with a beer in hand. This was where you could see the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg come out and greet the crowds and also the best place to enjoy the band procession before hand.

After the formalities, it was on to the informal. The city had been taken over by pop-up stages for rock musicians and stalls selling food and drink. It was time to make friends with your neighbours and enjoy the festivities, something more akin with New Year’s Eve in the UK.

I escaped back to my hotel but avoiding the celebration was impossible. At the stroke of midnight, Luxembourg was showered with light from the firework display and I too basked in its glow.

Happy birthday Luxembourg.

Read my guide to doing Luxembourg National Day like a local here

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