The locality where I live – Esch-sur-Alzette, situated in the south of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg near the French border and enjoying the role of the Grand Duchy’s second city – is now living one of the most exciting times in its history, having been chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2022. It shares this distinction with two other European cities, Kaunas in Lithuania and Novi Sad in Serbia. If Esch is the epicentre of E22, as the year-long festival has been dubbed, there will also be multiple activities in other municipalities of southern Luxembourg and across the French frontier.

Yesterday 26 February was the date of  the official launch of E22, as the year-long festival is known, and Esch’s main square, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, colourfully lit up, was the designated venue for REMIX OPENING, an event made up of a series of eloquent inaugural speeches interspersed with live music. Dignitaries spoke representing Luxembourg (including the mayor of Esch), France, the European Union and more, the main languages of communication being Luxembourgish and French.

The festival having been officially opened, the coast is clear for a multitude of creative manifestations spanning all the arts. The current situation in Europe and its challenge to European values was evoked, as alas had to be the case, with the bridge-building role of culture now appearing more important than ever. It was affirmed that there can be no Europe without culture, and no culture without Europe. Meanwhile, it should never be forgotten that Luxembourg is a multicultural and multilingual country, and it is to be hoped that the minority and migrant cultures will be fully represented as the cultural events unfold. It is now over to the inhabitants of Esch to express their creativity and support their fellow citizens’ creative acts, over 2022 and beyond.

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