Get pampered in Mondorf
With the excesses of Christmas and New Year still weighing heavily, January could the perfect time to banish the winter blues, and sweat off a few calories at the Domaine Thermal in Mondorf-les-Bains. The nation’s largest spa resort is a vast complex of thermal pools, saunas and steam rooms, and all manner of massages and other treatments are also on offer.
A capital idea
With much of the north of the country in hibernation for the winter months, now is a good time to focus your attention on the capital, Luxembourg City. If it’s too chilly to enjoy the outdoor views of its stunning gorges, then there are no end of museums, galleries, concert halls, and, of course, shops to take you mind off the cold.
Light a fire for spring
The festival of Burgsonndeg is held each year on 13 March. Said to have Pagan origins, it is a time when people in villages up and down the country light up the landscape, building warming bonfires to welcome the arrival of spring and the return of the sun.
Potter around a pottery market
Wander round and enjoy one of the Emaischen pottery markets, held on Easter Monday in Luxembourg City, and across the same weekend in the village of Nospelt, where the National Pottery Museum is located. The star attractions are bird-shaped whistles known as péckvillchen, which make a loud trilling sound when blown – any child will be more than happy to demonstrate how it’s done.
Get hopping in Echternach
On Whit Tuesday each year (either late May or early June), the town of Echternach springs quite literally into action, with the annual Dancing Procession. In a ceremony with ancient origins, thousands of pilgrims dress up in white shirts and wave white handkerchiefs, all the while hopping and skipping their way through the streets towards the tomb of St Willibrord, the national patron saint.
Celebrate National Day
The days around 23 June, Luxembourg’s National Day, are the liveliest of the year. Every town and village in the country celebrates the night before with loud music and beer, but it’s Luxembourg City that sees the most spectacular events – a torchlight parade through the streets is capped off with one of the biggest fireworks displays you’ll ever see.
With long days and generally warm temperatures, summer is when the largely rural northern half of the country comes into its own. With thousands of kilometres of well-marked hiking trails, and dozens of mountain-biking routes, you can walk all day and may only meet a handful of other hikers or bikers along the way.
Step back in time
For ten days in August, everyone dresses up and converges on Vianden – a beautiful, small town dominated by a hilltop castle – for its annual Medieval Festival, with music and dancing, and stalls selling leatherwear and toy wooden swords. Bird-of-prey-wranglers roam the streets, knights in armour stage mock swordfights, there are demonstrations of woodturning and a smithy, and, of course, everything is washed down with good helpings of sausages and beer.
September means the wine harvest is approaching in the Moselle Valley, and that in turns brings with it wine festival season. The biggest party takes place in the regional capital Grevenmacher, while during the Riesling Open you can catch a free boat ride on the river, and events in Wellenstein include a fountain flowing with free wine.
As autumn closes in, locally caught game comes into season, and many restaurants up and down the country offer special menus to mark the occasion. With the leaves turning golden in the Ardennes and Little Switzerland, it’s also a beautiful time to go hiking in the woods –but remember to wear bright clothing as you don’t want to be mistaken for dinner!
Luxembourg City wine festival
On the middle weekend in November, the wine merry-go-round shifts focus to marketing opportunities in the capital, at La Fête des Vins et Crémants. Held in a large circus tent, 40 local winemakers offer tastings to all and sundry (which are free once you’ve bought the official glass).
As Christmas approaches, Luxembourg City celebrates with its month-long Winter Lights festival, with musical concerts, exhibitions, light shows and other events. The highlight for many is sipping glühwein while perusing the seasonal trinkets, on sale at the stalls of the Christmas Market on place d’Armes.