SIEBENGEBIRGE The Drachenburg Castle Christmas market will be open all four weekends of Advent in 2018. With the theme "Charles Dickens - A Christmas Story" visitors will get a taste of the 19th century in this unique setting.
Actually, autumn seems to have only arrived just recently. But at the Drachenburg Castle, there are already signs of winter. To be more exact, Advent. In just around three weeks, the Christmas market at the romantic Königswinter landmark will open up for its eighth season. It’s billed as the “Einzigartige Weihnachtszeit” ( “Unique Christmas Time”). And preparations for the special kind of Christmas market are already running full steam ahead. This year, it will be open for four weekends instead of three like last year. The reason is that the fourth Sunday of Advent in 2017 was already Christmas Eve.
Despite the shorter season, the figures for last year show that around 33,000 visitors attended- and this despite some extreme weather conditions: "On a Sunday we even had to shut down the market for some time due to heavy snowfall," reports Joachim Odenthal, managing director of Schloss Drachenburg GmbH.
"Charles Dickens - A Christmas Story" is the theme
He is hoping for better weather this year - and for around 50,000 visitors to make their way up to the castle this Advent season. Organizers have once again put some thought into making it a special experience for visitors.
More music, more space, more children's activities: that's the threefold approach Odenthal has adopted for this year. The theme for the scenery at the castle "Charles Dickens - A Christmas Story" remains unchanged. "This year, actors will once again play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge and other well-known characters in the story," says Odenthal.
In previous years, however, it had been observed that the theatre had sometimes got lost in the hustle and bustle surrounding the castle. That's why the play will be on the Venus terrace this time.
Panopticon, fortune teller's booth and puppet theatre
This move will also integrate the front parking area into the market and expand the square as a whole. A panopticon from 1915 completes the historic ambience, as does a fortune teller's hut, a puppet theater tent and historic merry-go-rounds.
Up to five different music ensembles play daily during the opening hours - not only around the castle, but also at the valley station of the Drachenfelsbahn. "Visitors experience the whole program - regardless of the time of day they come to us," says Odenthal.
And yet the castle of Drachenburg, decorated for Christmas, will be especially beautiful when darkness falls. Lighting artist Wolfgang Flammersfeld, who is also responsible for "Schlossleuchten", will provide the perfect illumination for the historic building.
"The idea is to enable people to take a break in a special atmosphere and away from the usual Christmas hustle and bustle," says Odenthal. That's another reason why they don't want to increase the number of visitors to endless proportions. "Then the atmosphere would be gone very quickly," he says.
In the long run, however, he could well imagine starting the "Unique Christmas Season" in the old town and leading it up to the castle. "That would be a dream," he says. "And who knows, maybe it will be possible to realize it at some point?"
Opening hours and tickets
The Drachenburg Castle Christmas Market is open on the following weekends: December 1 and 2, December 8 and 9, December 15 and 16, December 22 and 23. On Saturdays it is open from 12pm to 9pm and on Sundays from 12pm to 8pm.
Tickets, including a trip with the Drachenfels railway and caste entrance: Adults - 12 euros, children from age 6 - 6 euros. For those on foot, adults pay 7euros and children 5 euros. Other groups also receive discounted rates, and families pay 17 euros. For more information, please visit the English language website.
(rig. text: Heike Hamann; Translation: ck)