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Schloss Drachenburg in Königswinter: About 1500 visitors attend the start of the castle illuminations

Schloss Drachenburg in Königswinter : About 1500 visitors attend the start of the castle illuminations

For the sixth time, Schloss Drachenburg was illuminated again this weekend. This year’s theme is the 250th birthday of Beethoven. About 1500 visitors came to the opening ceremony.

The sixth Schloss Drachenburg illumination was opened on Friday evening and will be a fairytale experience for thousands of visitors to come and see, hear and marvel over the coming weekends until 23 February, the organisers hope. According to Alexandra von dem Brinke, who is responsible for the event at Schloss Drachenburg, there were about 1500 visitors on the first weekend. That is slightly fewer than in previous years, but this year there will be an extra weekend to look at the castle lights.

Once again, the light artist Wolfgang Flammersfeld and his team are responsible for the light spectacle. This year, the performers have joined in the celebrations of Beethoven's 250th birthday, illuminating the composer in many different ways and showing him in a dazzling light.

The whole castle as a work of art

Visitors to the Castle illuminations should allow sufficient time to enjoy the event from as many different perspectives as possible. Those who choose the footpath up to the castle can slowly approach and see the whole castle as a work of art, bathed in bright colours. As the castle approaches, the different sides of the imposing building capture the light colours in a variety of ways with its windows, towers, stairs and doors at different heights. On the way up, you pass the Nibelungenhalle, which is also part of the colourful event.

From a distance, it is almost impossible to make out the staging for the great composer. The colours belong to the castle itself. Occasionally, Beethoven's portrait shimmers discreetly through the trees in the park. After entering the park through the outer bailey, visitors are enveloped by Beethoven's presence, which also permeates their further visit to the palace and gardens.

In the park, it is worthwhile to pause and let your gaze wander, to enjoy the view of Bonn shining further down the Rhine valley. Beethoven's birthplace is included in the fairytale of light. The path continues to the eastern facade of the castle. There Flammersfeld, together with Harald Opel, artistic director of the storylab "kiU" of Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts and students, have created a video projection above the entrance portal that repeats itself every ten minutes.

The countdown begins!

To let visitors know when it's time for the video to begin again, a ten-minute projected countdown starts. Storylab, as part of the design department, is concerned with the development of innovative projects, with a focus on storytelling and narrative art using new technologies.

In just a few minutes, the projection begins with characteristic symbols of Beethoven's creative work. A sheet of music unrolls above the façade, windows light up and behind it a moving figure of Beethoven is shown. The artist sometimes plays the violin, sometimes restlessly runs around, or even fences: “Fencing is supposed to represent Beethoven's struggle with himself,” Opel explains.

Harald Opel himself played the figure of Beethoven in the projection. He said he had also studied Beethoven's emotional world for this. Suddenly, broken pieces of colorful wall fill the palace façade. Anyone who would like to listen to Beethoven's music can do so by using the FM frequency 87.5 via mobile phone. Mini radios can also be borrowed in the outer castle. However, listening is only possible with headphones, in order to not to disturb the peace and quiet of the nightly natural surroundings.

Journey into the surreal

A visit to the rooms of the castle itself is a journey into the surreal. In the art gallery, gigantic ear trumpets stand in the centre of the room. These are reminiscent of the huge ear trumpets that the deaf Beethoven used. Beethoven heads surrounded by light dominate the rooms. A red laser-beam show in the upper floor of the castle is impressive. Dancers bathed in bluish light draw the attention in the lower rooms. The entire interior of the palace with furniture, vases, crockery and splendid decorations seems to be in motion around the Beethoven illuminations.

Those who want to fortify themselves after so much fairy-tale-like atmosphere have the opportunity to do so in front of the coach house of the castle, where hot baked-apple wine, soup and other dishes are on offer. The view of the Rhine Valley in the evening rounds off the sensual experience.

(Original text; Iris Zumbusch-Czepuck, translation John Chandler)