„Castle Lights“ is postponed Schloss Drachenburg to remain dark for the time being
Siebengebirge · Many castle fans have been waiting for this all year long: At the end of January, it’s normally time for the spectacular light show at Schloss Drachenberg. But the pandemic is putting a damper on a colorful start to the winter season at the castle.
Joachim Odenthal had envisioned something different. To kick off the 2022 winter season, Schloss Drachenburg was supposed to be lit in beautiful colors on the weekends starting on January 21 during the "Schlossleuchten" ("Castle Lights") event. Lighting artist Wolfgang Flammersfeld was ready to enchant visitors with an amazing light show. Instead, the castle will remain dark and the doors closed - at least until January 31. At that point, they will make a decision about how to proceed.
“With an eye on further developments in the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to remain cautious," says the managing director of Schloss Drachenburg gGmbH in response to a GA query. "We are going on winter break." Because of the uncertainty in how the pandemic will develop and a possible new wave of the omicron variant, as well as additional requirements for the arts and leisure industry, everyone involved agreed on this step, he said.
"We will now wait and see which conditions would apply to us if we were to open in February and possibly be able to run the “Castle Lights" event after all," said Odenthal. In the next two weeks, they want to check whether and in what form the “Castle Lights" could take place in February.
The first “Castle Lights” event took place in 2015
With a different theme created by lighting artist Flammersfeld each year, the event has been taking place every January and February since 2015. According to Odenthal, it is not possible to simply postpone the light show for a few weeks: "We are located in a nature reserve and have to respect the breeding times of birds." A permit for the castle illumination is only possible until the end of February for that reason.
19,000 visitors in 2020
The closure was deliberately scheduled for the coming weeks, "when the overall visitor frequency is not so high," as Odenthal says. As for the past year in 2021, the managing director says, ”Contrary to expectations, we ended up breaking even, even though we were closed for around five months.” They managed it by saving money wherever possible and through the help of government financial aid.
Around 116,000 people visited the historic castle high above the Rhine Valley in the second year of the Covid pandemic, and it was once again the setting for various film and TV productions in 2021 - including the popular flea market show on German television, "Bares für Rares" with Horst Lichter. Also filmed there was the fourth season of the international hit series "Babylon Berlin," which will be shown in the spring. As for the question of whether further film productions will be using the castle as a set in 2022, Odenthal says only this much: "So far, talks are underway for two productions.”
In any case, Drachenberg Schloss staff have not been sitting idle in recent months. Much of the castle has been restored and polished, says Odenthal. Much work has been done from the music hall to the reception hall and the magnificent windows in the art hall, which are arranged by subject and show portraits of writers, inventors and musicians. They were destroyed during World War II and are now being replaced one by one, thanks to many individual sponsors.
Funding for windows from the NRW Foundation
Odenthal is particularly pleased that shortly before Christmas he received approval for funding of the last of the nine large windows from the NRW Foundation, which owns Schloss Drachenburg. "At the beginning, we were told that this would be a generational task," Odenthal says. "Now we've done it much sooner."
What events will take place at Schloss Drachenburg this year? Joachim Odenthal finds it difficult to say right now. “It’s all about the safety of the visitors and what people will want to do in their free time," he says. One firm date is the "Festival of Fantasy" on Aug. 6 and 7, he says. "We're just hoping now that we'll be back as soon as possible after the winter vacations.”
Orig. text: Heike Hamann