Fewer ships, but fireworks Rhine in Flames 2023 will only take place in Bonn
Bonn · The City of Bonn and the Tourismus & Congress GmbH have decided to hold the next Rhine in Flames without the neighbouring municipalities. There is a lack of income because fewer ships are taking part.
Rhein in Flammen is to take place in 2023 in a reduced version. This was announced by the City of Bonn and Tourismus & Congress GmbH late on Wednesday afternoon after talks with the municipalities between Bonn and Linz that have been involved up to now. According to the press release, the partners have agreed to "immediately start planning talks for Rhine in Flames" 2024 in order to transfer the popular event into a new concept, to secure it economically and to develop it sustainably.
As reported, the exact programme for Rhine in Flames on the first weekend in May 2023 was still open. The main issues were the convoy of ships and the illumination of the banks. Organiser Jürgen Harder has already organised the land programme for Bonn's Rheinaue.
"In 2023, there will be the established land event in the Bonn Rheinaue as well as the music-synchronised fireworks. Instead of a convoy of ships between Bonn and Linz, individual boat trips are planned," T&C and the City of Bonn announce. The Rhine bank will only be illuminated in the Bonn city area.
Funding gap of 100,000 Euro
In the run-up, the main issue was financing. The city and T&C now justify their decision with a financing gap of 100,000 Euro. Apart from the city of Bonn, almost no other municipality has agreed to contribute financially. Until now, the fireworks along the route between Bonn and Linz, shore lighting and light installations as well as costs for security and permits were paid for with the fireworks levy on ship tickets.
"The basis for holding the Rhine in Flames in the form known until 2019 is around 12,000 ship tickets sold as well as sponsorship income," the organisers say. However, a survey of the shipping companies has only revealed a return of around 4,500 seats to be sold, which could possibly be increased to 6,000 seats. "According to current planning, this results in the aforementioned financing gap." In order to financially secure the reduced variant for 2023, the City of Bonn wants to make 40,000 Euro available. The city administration will present a corresponding proposal to the council for decision shortly.
Organisation of the fireworks still open
"Nothing will change for the land programme in 2023," Jürgen Harder, the organiser responsible, told the GA. It was still open who would be responsible for the fireworks in the Rheinaue. Harder had offered in advance to also take over the organisation of the ship convoy. He finds the cancellation a pity, because "the origin of Rhine in Flames is to illuminate the Rhine and to sail through a perpetual fireworks display," says Harder.
Rico Fenoglio, managing director of Wanted GmbH and organiser of the big party on the MS Rheinfantasie, said of the slimmed-down plans for 2023: "The character of the Rhine in Flames event on the water is in tatters." According to Fenoglio, the reason why so few ship tickets are being sold is "that they didn't ask for the ships in time". There was a lack of commitment, so that large ships had long since been allocated differently. In the planning for Rhine in Flames 2024, those who are to pay the bills must be at the table. "We need more transparency," said Fenoglio. His party ship has so far been the only one on pre-sale for 2023, and whether it will sail under the changed auspices will be decided within the next few weeks, he said.
The owners of Bonner Personen Schiffahrt (BPS) want to join in, even if Rhine in Flames 2023 becomes more of an evening trip with single fireworks, similar to the trips to the fireworks in Bad Breisig or Andernach so far. "We in Bonn are happy that something is taking place, but I don't know how many colleagues from outside are making the long journey," said BPS board member Clemens Schmitz. (Original text: Bettina Köhl / Translation: Mareike Graepel)