Läckö Castle: Opera and live music at captivating Baroque castle
By Malin Norman | Photos: Läckö Slott
Strategically located by Lake Vänern, Läckö Castle is captivating with its fascinating history, Baroque exterior and interior, ancient medieval vaults and treasures, and magical garden. This summer, the castle also offers a great programme of events.
Läckö Castle is known as De la Gardie’s magnificent mansion on the shores of Lake Vänern, but it is actually much older. Brynolf Algotsson, the bishop of Skara, laid the foundations for a fortified castle in 1298. Its strategic history probably goes back even longer, however. The castle was confiscated from the church and taken over by the crown in 1527, and in 1615, it was granted to Count Jacob De la Gardie for services to the nation. His son Magnus Gabriel was only 30 when he took over the title and estates and began an extensive extension of the castle. It is essentially Magnus Gabriel’s palace we see today.
“Läckö Castle is a hidden gem, also for many Swedes,” says Jan Malmgren, CEO of Stiftelsen Läckö Slott (The Foundation of Läckö Castle). “It’s a fantastic experience to see the castle, which has been left untouched. Lots of people come to see the garden and the surroundings as well, to have a nice meal or stay the night, and to enjoy the exhibitions and events.”
The walled castle garden is an oasis. Gardener Simon Irvine looked after the garden from 1990 and transformed it into what we see today. His focus on sustainability and organic produce has inspired gardens around the world. Last year, Irvine retired and left the garden in the capable hands of gardeners Jenny and Erik, who continue to curate it in the same spirit. Everything is organically cultivated and the garden is a living resource for the castle, with vegetables, spices and edible flowers.
Travelling, ceramics and forests
Every day, visitors can take part in guided tours around the castle and there are tailored adventures for kids, with actors and guides to entertain. This year, the castle opens the exhibition Stamped ALP in the small courtyard in collaboration with Rörstrand Museum. Here, visitors can familiarise themselves with classic porcelain and ceramics made in the factory of Rörstrand. On the second floor, the new exhibition Travelling, in collaboration with Nationalmuseum (Sweden’s Museum of Art and Design), will show how humans have travelled through history, with a number of artefacts from the museum’s collections.
The artistic duo Alexandrov Klum will explore our relationship with nature in Searching for the soul of the forest – A journey into Swedish nature. In rooms with up to six metres in ceiling height, there is plenty of room for world-famous photographer Mattias Alexandrov Klum and artist Iris Alexandrov Klum to display their sensual perspectives. “In Sweden, nature is very close to our hearts,” reflects Malmgren. “During the pandemic, people have taken the opportunity to return to the outdoors. Together with Alexandrov Klum, we can explore our relationship with nature and discover the soul of the forest – and ourselves.”
Also located on the estate is Naturum Vänerskärgården – Victoriahuset, named after Crown Princess Victoria. Here, you can check out the visitor centre, experience an exhibition about the national park and the Vänern archipelago, recharge at restaurant gastrosfär, and spend the night in the hotel.
Opera and live music at the castle
The main courtyard has amazing acoustics, and the summer opera at Läckö Castle is well-known and cherished in the region and beyond. The opera production has become a highly regarded part of the castle’s mission: to provide cultural history and cultural experiences in an enriching way. After two years of waiting due to the pandemic, finally the castle will present the opera Tintomara, with 13 shows from 9 to 30 July. Tintomara is an opera in two acts by Lars Johan Werle, after the novel Drottningens juvelsmycke (The Queen’s Jewel) by C.J.L. Almqvist. It tells the story of the androgynous character Tintomara – from the shot at Gustav III, to the silence in Solna forest.
The castle will also host Läckö Sessions, with a series of live performances in collaboration with Krall Entertainment. Artists such as Lisa Nilsson, Måns Zelmerlöw, Arvingarna, Sven Ingvars and Lisa Ekdahl will take to the outdoor stage for intimate performances in front of a small audience of around 500 seated guests. In addition to the opera and Läckö Sessions, popular singer Lars Winnerbäck is set to perform at Läckö Castle on 6 August as part of his summer tour.
“Our programme is maxed out this summer, as you can see,” smiles Malmgren. “Läckö Castle is a great meeting place and a beautiful destination, and lots of people come here to meet friends, have lunch or enjoy a fika, listen to their favourite musicians, and learn more about our cultural heritage.”
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