A family visit to the LUGA (Luzern with kids)
On a chilly and grey April weekend, the five of us, 2 adults and 3 children, bundled up in our rain jackets, wearing shoes we wouldn’t mind walking around in for 6 hours and headed in direction Luzern to visit this year's LUGA. This was our first visit to Luzern’s spring fair, and so we were all curious as to what our day out would be like - would the kids like it or quickly be bored?
Our only past experience with a Messe, a fair usually focused on consumer products, was our local Zugermesse which we visit most years in order to stock our wine fridge; however, we never bring our kids along. My kids’ idea of fun isn’t being trapped at a fair waiting (not so) patiently as their parents try different wines, look at dining chairs, or buy a vegetable grater. But the LUGA is a little different. There is much more of a focus on families with its entertainment, unique displays, and rides specifically aimed at kids. Oh— don’t forget the animals!
So what did we enjoy about the LUGA? Here are our highlights ….
Being the hobby chef of our home, Hubby was most impressed with the Luzern Farmers exhibit, where we learned about a wide range of food topics. We got an introduction to the different varieties of potatoes grown in Switzerland as well as as interesting animal facts. Did you know that since a chicken doesn't have any teeth they must eat small stones to help to digest their food? We both left with a handful of booklets full of recipes, a handy table to remind us of which salad is in-season, and a leaflet about the different varieties of potatoes with a guide on how to cook each one.
He also enjoyed watching the vegetable grater display - just bear with me here! At a previous Messe we were convinced by the salesman to purchase this fantastic grater, and 10 years later we still use it - but as time went on we forgot about all the fancy things it could do. So we spent some time watching the same guy from 10 years ago grate fancy french fries, as well as thinly sliced oranges and beetroot. We left with a new addition to our grater collection—and now we can grate apples very fine for when we make bircher muesli.
I loved getting my free magazine from LandLiebe, (I usually get it at the library, but it is always nice to have my own!) I also liked visiting the stands of the local tourism operators. I’ve got plans for visiting Engelberg in the summer for the new Schmuggli’s Trail and playground and I’m currently trying to convince the family that dinner on Pilatus is a good idea this summer. Being on the mountains at sunset has been on my bucket list for a while.
Taking a teen along to an event like this isn’t always a good idea, and I was surprised how much she actually enjoyed herself. Her highlight was the cheese corner where she could try a variety of different cheeses. She ended up finding a new favourite, a brie-like cheese similar to Luzern rahmkäse (her current number one cheese choice) called Luzerner Rahm-Weichkäse from Emmi. She also enjoyed the climbing wall which was outside the Messe halls. She zoomed up that wall like Spiderman and was pleased as punch when the young women belaying her complimented her style and gave her a brochure for the local rock climbing group.
Being the braver member of a somewhat cautious family, the Teen was the only one of us who actually enjoyed the rides at the Luna Park. Her choice: the Octopus ride which the Teen describes as perfect for those who aren’t quite ready for roller coasters.
Before we even visited, we knew what his favourite would be: Stokys. The moment he arrived he was already trying to direct us to their stand. He loved using the Stokys catapult to get the candy into the hole, and of course, loved doing his part to help make the Stokys record. It was at almost 700 pieces on our visit - just 4374 to go!
What he didn’t expect was how much he’d enjoy a visit to the SWISSINT exhibit. The peacekeeping department of the Swiss military, SWISSINT showed us what it was like to walk through an area filled with land mines, showed us their trucks that had tank-like doors almost impossible to shut on our own and the kids put on virtual reality glasses and were transported to Kosovo on one of their peacekeeping missions. We left with a ration of Swiss military chocolate after climbing the UN tower to find pictures of aircraft.
Little Z told me that that highlight for her was, of course, the animals. When I asked her if there was anything else she enjoyed, she said yes: the chickens, the goats, the ponies and the baby cows. She is our resident animal lover and could have stayed in the petting stalls all day. She also got into the fun of the afternoon pig races. Sitting on my shoulders, as the crowds started clapping she did too, and cheered as Daisy zoomed around the track to the finishing trough of deliciousness to win the race.
This didn’t include all the halls we visited, or the lunch we enjoyed while watching the cow presentation, and the pony rides. The LUGA brought me back to my own childhood, where we visited the EKKA in Brisbane each year so I can understand why the local central Swiss attend year after year, it’s just a lovely traditional part of the Luzern cultural calendar.
If you are interested in a visit to this year’s LUGA, you have until May 5th to visit. I have a 5 chf discount code for SFT readers so follow this link to secure your discount.
Buy your tickets online before you go and skip the lines when you arrive, just exchange your tickets at the specific booths for an entry armband
If you intend to drive, arrive at the opening as the parking fills up quickly. The overflow carparks are serviced by shuttle buses. Better yet, come by train where the local S-Bahn train station brings you directly to the LUGA.
Be sure to bring a backpack with you to carry your supplies. I collected free magazines, muesli samples, recipes, and brochures and was glad I had a roomy bag to carry it all.