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Extract SIGHTGEIST / Category: Culture

A Magical Night

Three castles come alive

A winged horse has landed at Albrechtsberg Castle. Standing on the manicured lawn, its hooves nestled among the flowers, it awaits the first guests to Dresden’s Schloessernacht, a nighttime event held every summer on the grounds of three historic castles in Dresden’s Elbe Valley. Created by students of Dresden’s Academy of Fine Arts, the Pegasus is the perfect adornment for this fantastical summer festival, which is why the event’s organisers have decided to put it in the spotlight. But this fairy-tale horse is not the only eye-catcher at the extravaganza. The drive leading up to the castle is lined with mythical creatures on this balmy evening in July: Fairies and fauns spin in the glow of the setting sun. Girls and boys in dazzling costumes whirl around visitors: They are students at the Youth Art School, who have been sewing, painting and rehearsing in their studio on the castle grounds for the past few weeks in preparation for this day. As soon as newcomers step through the main gates, they are drawn into the depths of the park by stilt walkers, jugglers and fire artists. Once inside, they watch in amazement and experience a night full of music, theatre and dance. Art, history and entertainment are what Dresden’s Schloessernacht is all about!

“Nature and architecture in perfect harmony” is one way of describing the valley of the Elbe River in Dresden. Only the historic city centre reaches down as far as the water. Elsewhere, the river winds its way through the city as it always has, framed by green banks, where horses and sheep can sometimes be seen grazing. Following the Industrial Revolution, Dresden swelled to over half a million inhabitants in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Magnificent villas were built around the old village greens and vineyards that are still preserved today. It was an affluent city. The castles Albrechtsberg, Eckberg and Lingner were erected along the banks of the river like pearls on a string, providing the perfect backdrop for a summer festival that captivates thousands of visitors every year.

This is exactly what the former lords of these three castles would have wanted: To see their estates being cultivated and appreciated by the citizens of Dresden. But they had to wait a long time for it to happen. Delightful, neo-Gothic Eckberg Castle, with its three turrets, only opened its doors to guests a few years ago after being converted into a luxury hotel. Visitors to Lingner Castle, built as a neo-Classical mansion, can now dine in style in the tasteful Lingnerterrassen restaurant, or enjoy a drink in the rustic beer garden, even if renovation work is still going on inside the building itself. Albrechtsberg Castle is a popular venue for weddings and receptions. Balls and conferences are held here, and the Dresden Youth Art School is housed on its grounds. All three castles are now open to the public again. Both locals and visitors can stroll through their well-tended parks and gardens, and on special occasions even get a look inside. The best opportunity is the Schloessernacht festival in summer, which draws thousands of visitors who come to experience art and culture in a magical environment combined with a lively atmosphere.

Every year in July, 6,000 people flock to Albrechtsberg, Eckberg and Lingner Castles. They wander the grounds, chat, eat and drink, admire the views and marvel at the beauty left to them by past generations – very much in keeping with the wishes and the legacy of their former owners. Guests from all over the region, other cities and even other countries come to enjoy an evening full of surprises in a very special setting. Dance and music, stage plays and art, culinary delights and history are all part of the programme at Dresden’s Schloessernacht. (excerpt)

Nadja Laske

Photo: (c) First Class Concept GmbH/Mirco Meinel

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