Thanks to a diverse and growing population, an economy that offers many opportunities to creatives, and generous public funding, creative industries in Luxembourg are not only thriving, they are an important engine of economic growth and are adding to the cultural richness of the country.
In Luxembourg, a robust economy and the proliferation of creativity go hand in hand. As more companies set up in Luxembourg and the population continues to grow at a rate of 2.4 percent, opportunities for artists, architects, and designers in the country are greater than ever before. From a substantial public film fund that allows filmmakers and videographers to express their artistic visions, to the ever-growing list of architectural delights, such as the newly built national library, Luxembourg fosters creativity.
Luxembourg is where old meets new in both seamless and innovative ways. St. Michael’s Church, whose current design dates back to 1688, sits across the street from the spacious and modernist National Museum of History and Art. An abbey that was once used to house Napoleon's troops provides the backdrop for hip bars in the Grund neighbourhood, and a grandiose modern red bridge towers 75 metres above the refurbished 19th-century cottages that line the Alzette river. It’s no surprise that such an economically robust country as Luxembourg, where steady growth has spurred a boom in the construction industry, architecture firms in Luxembourg are creating a flourish of projects at the forefront of innovative design. Sizable government revenue has allowed for the creation of awe-inspiring public buildings. Recent wonders include the Philharmonie, Christian de Portzamparc’s iconic concert hall that is admired for the 823 white columns on its elegant façade, as well as the Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), which was designed by influential architect I.M. Pei and built on the site of an old fort. Most recently, the new Luxembourg National Library, which cost €111 million and includes over 35,000 square metres of floor space, is stunning both in terms of its size and beauty.
From the blacksmiths and metalworkers whose demonstrations are one of the biggest draws of the annual Christmas Market in Place D’Armes, to the MUDAM museum’s biannual Marché des Créateurs which provides a unique selling space for locals who specialise in everything from ceramics to fashion design, and from jewellery to printing, Luxembourg produces a variety of handmade crafts and artisanal goods. Among them are Käerzefabrik Peters in Heiderscheid which makes beautiful candles for any occasion, and Schoofshaff in Tuntange that produces handmade woolen textiles such as tablecloths, scarves, and slippers.
Luxembourg has no shortage when it comes to the visual arts. Perhaps most notable is the ‘Family of Man’ exhibition in Clervaux Castle in the north of the country, assembled by the Luxembourg-born photographer Edward Steichen and first displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The renowned exhibition is described by UNESCO as a 'legend in the history of photography’. Luxembourg City also has a number of art museums: MUDAM and Casino which specialise in contemporary art; the recently renovated Villa Vauban which displays paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries; and the National Museum of Art and History. The country also has a large number of private galleries where art can be viewed and purchased. A plethora of local artists have contributed greatly to the arts scene. Contemporary figures include Su-Mei Tse who creates haunting installations with photography, video, and music, and the painter and sculptor Max Kohn.
Sensible chic might be Luxembourg’s defining characteristic in terms of fashion and design. With the country’s diversity, the capital's international pull, and an upwardly mobile population that enjoys a certain degree of affluence, the country is home to its own robust design and fashion segment, with local designers drawing on the varied influences to create classy but unique clothing, jewelry, and other accessories. The year 2019 marked the first annual Luxembourg Fashion Week, which offers international designers the opportunity to showcase their latest designs on catwalks in some of Luxembourg City’s poshest locations. The organisation Lët’z Go Local organises markets where you can purchase goods such as books, fashion items, toys, and cosmetics – all locally made, of course. The country is home to a number of top-notch design firms, sustained in part by the growing number of companies based here.
Despite its modest size, Luxembourg enjoys a thriving music and performing arts scene, locally produced and also from abroad. The Rockhal, a large concert venue located in the former industrial area of Belval in the south, regularly welcomes large international acts such as Shakira, Mika, and Imagine Dragons, while a number of smaller venues showcase up-and-coming performers and local bands. The beautiful Philharmonie gives space for classical as well as modern musical performances, and among the many theatres in the capital is the spectacular Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, opened in 1964, which hosts a wide array of performances including drama and opera. An interesting feature of the performing arts scene in Luxembourg is its linguistic variety, and there’s no shortage of shows in French, German, Luxembourgish, Portuguese, and English.
While it’s only in the last decades that Luxembourgish has developed into a written literary language, the country has a deep literary history. The French writer Victor Hugo spent a long period of time in Vianden, and more recently a host of local writers have created a variety of works in many languages including Luxembourgish. It’s fair to say we are witnessing a period of burgeoning literature and poetry in the country. The annual National Literary Competition, created in 1978, showcases the country’s linguistic diversity as submissions are accepted in Luxembourgish, French, German, and/or English. The nation also has several publishing houses of which Editions St. Paul is the largest, while newcomer Black Fountain Press publishes mainly collections in English.
Luxembourg is home to RTL (Radio Television Luxembourg), which started as a local radio station in the early 20th century but soon became a household name all over Europe. Since then, it has since grown into a media giant, the RTL Group, which is now one of the largest television and radio groups in Europe and is one of the world’s biggest producers of television content. Luxembourg is also no stranger to the film industry. Relative to its size, the country has one of the most generous film funds, which awards tens of millions of euros for both local projects as well as large international co-productions. A surprising fact is that many big-budget films have been shot in Luxembourg. These include ‘Shadow of the Vampire’ and ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’. Luxembourg is also home to several production companies, including Samsa, which since its birth in the 1980s has produced or co-produced over 80 feature films.