Oktav: Pilgrimage & Octave Market at Luxembourg Cathedral

  • 10/May/2025
  • Luxembourg Cathedral, Luxembourg
Oktav pilgrimage Luxembourg Cathedral
Oktav pilgrimage Luxembourg Cathedral

Event description


Known locally as Oktav, the Octave pilgrimage is the biggest religious event in Luxembourg. It takes place every year in Luxembourg City, between the 3rd and 5th Sundays after Easter.

The Octave pilgrimage is accompanied by the Octave market or Maërtchen in Luxembourgish. 

Celebrated since the 17th century, the Oktav today attracts some 90,000 pilgrims. From all over the region, the faithful come to pay homage to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, patron saint of the country and comforter of the afflicted.

The origins of the Octave pilgrimage

As the plague raged in Luxembourg in 1666, believers came to beg a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, endowed with miraculous powers, to heal the sick.

The old statue was the object of great religious fervor. Originally erected at Champ du Glacis(in the Limpertsberg district), it was later moved to the interior of Luxembourg City. Since then, the statue of Notre-Dame de Luxembourg has been displayed on a gilded pedestal in Luxembourg Cathedral.

During the Octave pilgrimage, pilgrims gathered to pay homage, say prayers and ask for blessings. Octave celebrations began on the 3rd weekend after Easter and lasted 8 days?

The Octave experience today in Luxembourg

Since the 17th century, the Octave or "Oktav" pilgrimage has been followed with great enthusiasm. Originally a purely religious event, it has evolved into a traditional gathering of pilgrims and visitors, curious about history and folklore.

The Octave period now lasts two weeks in April or May, depending on the date chosen for Easter. 

During the Octave, pilgrims come from all over Luxembourg and the Greater Region to pray to the Virgin Mary. They gather at Luxembourg Cathedral and take part in various religious ceremonies and processions during the two weeks of the Octave. The atmosphere is one of devotion, unity and joy. The cathedral is richly decorated for the occasion. The statue of St. Mary Consoler is dressed in festive garments.

A grand procession marks the end of the two-week Octave pilgrimage. The faithful, dressed in traditional costumes, carry the statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets of Luxembourg City. Religious songs and prayers accompany the procession. The grand-ducal family follows the procession, as do the country's political authorities.

Later, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg appear on the balcony of the Palais Grand-Ducal in the Old Town district to greet the crowd, accompanied by the rest of the Grand Ducal family.

The Octave Market or "Maërtchen

Coming from far and wide, pilgrims attending the various religious celebrations of the Octave had to feed themselves. From the very beginning of the Octave, food stalls were set up in front of the cathedral, where pilgrims could find food. These were the beginnings of the Octave Market or "Mäertchen".

The Maërtchen is part of Luxembourg's spiritual and cultural heritage. It has become a key element of local traditions.

Indeed, the small food stalls of the traditional Octave pilgrimage are now one of the many attractions of the Marché de l'Octave. Set up on the large Place Guillaume II, also known as the "Knuedler", and around Luxembourg Cathedral, the Octave Market attracts not only the faithful, but also other visitors. Families living in Luxembourg and beyond take part in the festivities. They can take advantage of the gastronomic stalls, the merry-go-rounds set up for the occasion on the Place de la Constitution and the various Octave events.

The Octave pilgrimage in Luxembourg therefore combines not only spirituality, but also history and cultural celebrations. But it's not the only event of its kind in Luxembourg.

The Our Lady of Fatima pilgrimage to Wiltz also celebrates Luxembourg's religious values.

Similarly, and uniquely, the Echternach dance procession is listed as a Unesco intangible heritage site. Take part and discover the customs and traditions of Luxembourg.

  • Start date :
  • 10/05/2025

Location


Luxembourg Cathedral, Luxembourg

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