Luxembourgish band Them Lights performing at Nuits des Lampions 2023; Credit: Jazmin Campbell/

The Jardin de Wiltz once again transformed into a fairytale landscape of lights this past weekend as part of the Nuits des Lampions arts festival.

Created during the 2007 European Capital of Culture, the Nuits des Lampions showcase the creations of participants in COOPERATIONS Asbl's inclusion workshops, as well as those of national and international artistis.

This year's festival took place from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 September. The first evening was characterised by a more relaxed atmosphere with fewer people, allowing visitors to focus on admiring the lantern exhibition. Concerts, performances and shows for audiences of all ages were on the artistic programme for Friday and Saturday.

Speaking to at the festival on Saturday evening, Marc Scheer, cultural programmer at COOPERATIONS, confirmed that tickets were sold out for the last night, with about 3,500 attendees expected on Saturday alone. The fact that the weather remained dry (unlike Thursday and Friday) may have contributed to this high turnout - the shuttle buses taking visitors to and from the festival site were packed already in the early evening. Despite this high demand, the organisers had limited ticket numbers again this year to ensure a comfortable experience for visitors.

In terms of changes this year, he explained that "every year we try to improve and take steps to raise the quality" but pointed out that the layout of the festival site is "complicated". This year, the team tried to "work more with the geography and the different areas of the garden itself" when installing the different lanterns. He elaborated: "We try to use the lanterns and the lights to really set up and to show the garden during the night." Marc Scheer added that the initial idea behind the garden was that it was "a living artwork". He said that rather than focusing on the quantity of lanterns ("too many" could distract from this initial idea), the team had tried this year "to really go back to the basics of the garden and show the garden itselfbecause it's really beautiful and it's also a very impressive project in itself."

The festival, which has a strong social component, also aims to showcase the mission and work undertaken by COOPERATIONS, which Marc Scheer described as an "impressive and fantastic organisation". Many of the several hundred lanterns, which come in all shapes and sizes, are the result of work carried out by people in the socio-cultural organisation's sheltered workshops (namely offering employment and training programmes to people with disabilities) and artists-in-residence. Each year, the organisers incorporate some of the older lanterns (thus avoiding waste) but also add some new ones. Efforts are also made to make the garden as accessible as possible, with some barrier-free routes available on certain levels.

This year's artistic programme featured several drama performances (including an appearance from the "Lonesome Paul Orchester" masked conductor from Germany), magic shows (e.g. magic tricks in a small circus tent by a Belgian circus company) and concerts by local and international acts (including Luxembourgish electro pop act Them Lights, UK Afro-futurist band Onipa and German psych-funk group Takeshi's Cashew, to name but a few).

Food and drinks were also available, with food trucks serving falafel, galettes/crepes and grilled meat, among other snacks, which visitors could enjoy along with the magical lanterns and entertainment.