Clervaux: Beauty in darkness – and light
Text: Martin Pilkington | Photos: Clervaux City
T his spring, Clervaux in Luxembourg’s Ardennes explores the beauty of dark skies – through art, music, and some extraordinary photography. And there are many more reasons year-round to visit the town.
The festival, NIGHT, Light & More, in the north of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg will come to a stunning climax this May in the beautiful town of Clervaux. Exhibitions and other creative events are taking place there as part of this drive to celebrate the splendour of the night sky, and to facilitate our ability to see it.The festival wants to alert people to the international problem of light pollution caused by excessive, misdirected artificial light in the night environment, pollution that disrupts ecosystems and spoils our natural environment.
The Our Nature Park and the Upper Sûre Nature Park are joining efforts across the country to address this. New public lighting will be installed in 2020 in Clervaux with that in mind, and from Friday 22 May to Sunday 24, the small town will witness some amazing evening musical performances and innovative spectacles – among them, The Museum of the Moon – to mark the closure of the NIGHT, Light & More Festival.
Clervaux of course offers a multitude of reasons to visit throughout the year, both in daytime and at night, and not just during the NIGHT, Light & More Festival. Most notably, the town has long been the home of the historic and UNESCO-listed photography collection The Family of Man, exhibited at the chateau since 1994.
There are plenty of other photography exhibitions in the town, too, with a succession of open-air displays by ‘Clervaux – Cité de l’image’ showing the work of contemporary photographers on walls, in the flower gardens and on thoroughfares throughout Clervaux, with guided visits bookable through the year. This year’s photographic season is titled ‘Still Light’ referencing the NIGHT, Light & More festival. You can discover White Night by Gilles Coulon; Cosmos by Francois Fontaine; Andreas Gefeller’s Soma; Sun in an Empty Room by Anna Lehmann-Brauns; Mona Kuhn’s She Disappeared into Complete Silence, and 1h by Hans-Christian Schink – all meant to be enjoyable and enjoyed by everyone, not just photography aficionados.
Museums, Abbey, Chateau…
The town’s authorities are hopeful visitors will take the time to see what else Clervaux has to offer, because it’s a fabulous place for a relaxing trip. Along with The Family of Man collection, the Chateau houses two museums, one commemorating The Battle of the Bulge fought in this area, the other with 1:100-scale models depicting the chateaux and fortresses of Luxembourg in miniature. The Benedictine Abbey of St Mauritius that perches on a ridge above the town, too, and the parish church close to its centre, are also architecturally stunning. There’s another photography link here – the Abbey holds a photographic record of the life and work of the Benedictines. The late-Baroque Loretto Chapel on the eastern side of the town, and the Gothic church of St Hubertus in neighbouring Munshausen, are likewise more than worth a look.
In the town centre, largely pedestrianised, Clervaux offers plenty of high-quality retail therapy. And in culinary terms that same relatively small and cosy area holds the best elements of Luxembourg’s culinary traditions all within strolling distance: top-class restaurants and a selection of bars, and a range of places where people new to the region will be delighted to find truly local products – beer from an artisan brewery, cider made by the Abbey’s monks, traditional patisseries, and superb hand-made chocolates.
The country around Clervaux that in 1944 saw the savage fighting of The Battle of the Bulge, but these days is a place of gentle hills, green fields and woodlands, and plenty of pretty villages, should not be forgotten in a visit to the town either – The Our Nature Park, of which Clervaux is part, is a particularly lovely area, and at Munshausen there’s a nature centre that will fascinate adults and children alike.
The celebration of dark skies will come to a suitable conclusion at midnight on Sunday 24 May with the projection of artistic images onto the imposing façade of Clervaux’s chateau. But make no mistake, this fabulous little corner of Luxembourg will continue to innovate, entertain and enlighten visitors as it already has been doing for a very long time.
The Family of Man – 503 images – 273 different photographers from 68 countries – Assembled by Luxembourg- American photographer Edward Steichen – First exhibited 1955 at New York’s MoMA – Seen by ten million visitors since its creation – Housed at Clervaux Chateau since 1994 – Since 2003 included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register www.clervaux.lu
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Receive our monthly newsletter by email