XARMS perform at the UA Days Closing Celebration at Rotondes; Credit: Jazmin Campbell/Chronicle.lu

The closing celebration of the first Ukrainian Days in Luxembourg (UA Days) took place at Rotondes in Luxembourg-Bonnevoie on Thursday evening.

UA Days is a new festival of Ukrainian culture in Luxembourg, hosted by LUkraine asbl and supported by the Embassy of Ukraine in Belgium, the Consulate of Ukraine in Luxembourg and the Representation of the European Commission in Luxembourg. The first edition ran from 1 to 15 June 2023, although some activities are ongoing. According to the organisers, the festival has attracted more than 1,200 visitors.

Speaking to Chronicle.lu about the success of this first edition, LUkraine asbl Vice President Inna Yaremenko said: "UA Days in Luxembourg holds a very unique place in our hearts. For the first time, we discussed Ukraine in terms other than conflict and unveiled its hidden culture. Ukraine can offer Europe years of history, culture and heritage because it is bigger than the war. We were impressed by the Luxembourgers' response and are pleased to see how enthusiastically they engaged with the festival and learned about Ukrainian culture. We can state with the certain that UA Days in Luxembourg is to be happen annually!"

On the programme were various performances and cultural experiences aimed at presenting Ukrainian heritage through music, cinema, art, fashion and photography. Each event helped LUkraine asbl raise money for its emergency response to the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine.

Highlights included:

  • the UA Days Opening Night Extravaganza, which featured a performance by renowned Ukrainian violinist Vasyl Popadiuk;
  • two fashion shows: the first showcased the works of Ukrainian designers Foberini (with modern  "Vyshyvanka" (traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts) designs) and Tamari Keburia (with her special collection inspired by the famous Ukrainian artist Mariya Prumachenko), whilst the second, organised with the support of LAFF asbl, presented the works of fellow Ukrainian designers ElenaReva and Poustovit. German designer and stylist Frank Wilde and Luxembourgish influencer Nadine Robert were among those present;
  • a charity meet-up centred around "Ukrainian Women: Resilience & Heritage", which featured a lecture by Ukrainian writer, journalist, TV presenter, singer, and feminist Irena Karpa on feminism in Ukraine, highlighting famous Ukrainian women throughout history and the role of women in the ongoing war;
  • a carillon concert by Ukrainian musician Iryna Riabchun at St Wilibrord Basilica Echternach;
  • the UA Days Closing Celebration, featuring short film screenings and performances by XARMS, a trio of producers formed in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2022 during the war, and Rome, a Luxembourgish neofolk band founded in November 2005. The latter is known for its support for Ukraine and recently performed a live show in Kyiv to raise funds for homeless shelters, animal shelters and supplies.

Throughout the festival, there were also several film screenings including that of Klondike, organised in partnership with CinEast and the Cinémathèque on Monday 12 June 2023; funds raised during the screening were donated to the Ukrainian charitable fund "Haystov" for their "Kits for Kids" initiative, which collects food packages for Ukrainian children in need. Other film screenings are yet to come.

Other ongoing events and activities include: the "What is Ukraine?" photo exhibition in Hesper Park, Hesperange (open to the public until 3 September 2023); the "Extravaganza" art exhibition by Oleksandr Teterin, on display at Biodiversum in Remerschen (until 18 June 2023); the "Ukrainian Women Through History" art exhibition at the Documentation Centre for Human Migrations (CDMH) in Dudelange (until 30 June 2023); the Maria Prymachenko art exhibition (featuring some of the works of this world-renowned 20th-century Ukrainian artist) at Lëtzebuerg City Museum (until 1 September 2023). The full programme is available on https://uadays.lu/.

Interview with Frank Wilde

The end of UA Days 2023 was also an opportunity for Chronicle.lu to interview Frank Wilde, a well-known stylist and costume designer from Berlin who attended the Ukrainian Fashion Show at Brasserie Schuman in Luxembourg-Limpertsberg on Wednesday 14 June 2023.

Even before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Frank Wilde (pictured below with Nadine Robert) had been a staunch supporter of Ukraine and its people. Demonstrating his solidarity, he regularly shares photos of outfits in blue and yellow (the colours of Ukraine) on his Instagram page. Since the full-scale invasion invasion, he has been assisting refugees in Berlin and collaborated with a Ukrainian designer on costumes for a UN refugee relief film.

Asked about how he perceived Ukrainian culture and what it can offer the world, Frank Wilde said: "I truly believe that Ukraine has so much to offer.[...] It serves as a valuable lesson for the world to learn from. Ukrainian culture is not only about its heritage but also about humanity, dignity and the determination to live independently with strength. There is so much we can learn from Ukraine, and this applies to various aspects, not just fashion."

Regarding Luxembourg's support for Ukraine, he emphasised the need to "remain focused and continue standing with Ukraine". He continued: "And this is what I would say to all our partners. The war is not over, and we are aware that Russia is waging its war based on the genocide of Ukrainians, hoping that Europe will grow tired of it. [...] This is the moment when we must not give up. Not at all. Russia is threatening the very fabric of civilisation. So let's continue giving our all to support Ukraine. There is no alternative to it."

Elaborating on the concept of "war fatigue", he said: "I believe that we all have our own lives and responsibilities, and life is challenging for everyone. But it's important to focus on the bigger picture - what do you want for your own future, for your children, and for the next generation? What kind of society do you want to live in? If you value democracy, it's crucial to think about it seriously. Then it becomes clear on which side of history you want to stand. You can't simply close your eyes and ignore the situation. You have to take action. Freedom isn't something that is given for free."

(Photo credit: Tanita Photo)