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Golden Days in Præstø, history brought to life.

Visit Præstø from the 10th. to the 12th of September 2021 and experince Golden Days in Præstø.

Golden Days in Præstø is a festival celebrating the creation of the picturesque market town Præstø. After more than 200 years of destruction and poverty due to wars, fires and plague, the little town was completely devastated by the start of the 19th century. But new conditions for farming and trade in combination with inventions of modern technology completely changed the circumstances. The farmers became self-employed and constituted a market. At the same time inventive merchants established their trade from Præstø.

During the Golden Days festival, we will bring the town back to the 19th century, when it was created. We will revive the original inhabitants, who will populate streets, harbour and alleys. You will have the chance to meet famous Danes who lived or worked in the city or were frequent visitors. Meet for example the world-famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen and the just as famous sculpturer Bertel Thorvaldsen, both frequent visitors to Nysø Manor. Hans Christian Andersen wrote several fairy tales during visits at the manor. The wonderful fairy tale The Nightingale was one of them another was Ole Lukøje (Ole the Sandman).

Artisans from the 19th century will invite you into their open workshops where you can engage in the historic work processes. You will be invited to see the picturesque houses and meet the citizens living there 150 years ago. You will be invited to concerts with music from the early 1800 composers of classical music and you can indulge in the folkloristic music from the time. All performed in the original 1800-hundrets warehouses. See also Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale Ole Lukøje as theater for children and go the beautiful marketplace where you can buy arts and crafts. This and many other things can be experienced during the Golden Days Festival. When hunger strikes, restaurants and pop-up cafes will offer a variety of 19th-century dishes in authentic settings.

The history of Præstø

By the threshold to then 19th century, Præstø was situated on an island. To develop trade they needed to get easy access to the mainland. Two merchants took the initiative to promote building of two bridges for this purpose, and furthermore they lead a campaign for improving the harbor. This was a battle stretching over nearly 30 years. But in 1828 the harbor was built, and the town was equipped for big trading. New rules for preventing serious fires secured solid build houses and a huge influx of new citizens made it necessary to build a lot of new houses. During the hundred years from 1800 to 1900 Præstø was raised. Basically, it was “golden days” in Præstø, even during very tough times in the rest of Denmark due to a state bankrupt in 1813, the England war etc. Præstø prospered. Luckily, later generations of citizens have struggled to maintain the old town as it was developed during this golden century.

Præstø prospered in more than one respect. During the first part of the 19th century, it became a meeting place for the most famous Danish artists. The world famous sculpturer Bertel Thorvaldsen lived and worked for long periods at Nysø Manor close to Præstø from 1839 till his death in 1844. The fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen was a frequent guest at Nysø and Præstø. Also N.S.F. Grundtvig the great church reformer and hymn writer has close bands to Præstø, first as priest in the town, since as a frequent guest at Nysø, and he was elected to the Constituent Assembly in Præstø. Many other leading cultural personalities were frequent guests. To mention a few, Heinrich Steffens who inspired to the new artistic golden ages and Adam Oehlenschläger the author of the Danish national anthem.

The Golden Days festival celebrates the town, its architecture through music, theater, demonstration of artisanship, reenactment of citizens from the town during the century, a marketplace and food from the time. Reserve tickets for the concert at https://www.billetsalg.dk/gyldnedage and keep an read up on historical ariticles and news surrounding the event at https://www.gyldnedage.dk/category/artikler/

Susanne Volqvartz

August 10th 2021