5,000 Magical Candles Illuminate Cosenza’s Medieval Castle

May, 2018

Cast your eyes over Consenza’s charming medieval Norman-Swabian Castle, illuminated by over 5,000 magical candles…

The Festival delle Candele (Festival of Candles) is held at the Castello Normanno Svevo in Cosenza’s Centro Storico (Old Town). In the second year since the festival’s inception, this is a spectacular but also surreal event attended by many Cosentini.

Piano B – Event Project Management organises this dreamy gathering, which this year is held between the 11th-12th May, and involves artistic and cultural events.

Castello Normanno Svevo, Cosenza, Calabria, ItalyMaking your way to the castle from Cosenza

From the Cosenza Centro train station, public buses (€1,50 return) run every hour to the castle. Although if you walk up through the old town until you reach Piazza XV Marzo and at the front of Teatro Alfonso Rendano, the public bus picks up every fifteen minutes.

Although public buses to and from the castle are increased over the two days, walking the forty-minutes up the hill via the roadway is a great way to see more. This route sees a steady incline, although towards the end of the walk, the incline becomes quite steep.

You can cut straight up through the Old Town but this way is via many steep steps. Typically, the steps are the best way to walk back down from the castle.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Start of the show

Charming Castle Entrance

After paying your €6 entry fee (usually €4 without an event), you are free to wander throughout the castle and grounds at will, and until the end of the performances around midnight, or later.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Why not grab an espresso or Spritzer with your ticket?

To greet you at the castle’s entrance, two musicians elegantly-dressed in period costume play ethereal-sounding ancient harps. This serene chamber music sets the medieval mood within the castle’s entrance lit by hundreds of tealight candles paves the way for what is to unfold.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Mesmerised by tealights

The entrance is also graced with one of the atmospheric fire dancers, merging the art of fire with the aged castle whilst in a bygone traditional dress era.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Fiery entrance welcome

As you move deeper into the soaring timeworn stone walls, the traditional Renaissance and Celtic music, pieces from the designer and musician Tommaso Muto swirl around you creating a ghostly atmosphere. The talented harpists Maria Cristina Chiarelli and Stefania Binetti, hail from The Conservatory of Music (Stanislao Giacomantonio).

Enchanting Candle exhibits

With every Gothic room and niche you encounter, thousands of tealights placed around a foot apart project a soft glow that dances around paths, corners, and alcoves to illuminate and brighten unlit areas of sculptures. An eerie and surreal ambience.

Continuing the dimly lit walk to the Sala delle Armi, extensive shadows bounce around the stone walls creating a tranquil and diffused backdrop for the unusual Riflessi di Ombre by Fio Marino. A mixture of old versus new with antiquated battle scenes, circus life performances, and everyday life settings are reflected as a backdrop of contrasting scenarios.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Front-side illuminated depictions
candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Behind the scenes
candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Candle emulation

Obscured lit sculptures adorned with vibrant colours and studded with tiny holes, allow candle light through the bodice, creating a glazed patterned masterpiece.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Vibrant sculpture

The video Naked Flames by video maker Orazio Garofalo, projected on a wall and continually playing throughout the evening, displays an “eruption of bodies in a moving-picture conceived on the incendiary body-soul sensuality”. Look carefully for the bodies and faces.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Naked Flames

The opportunity to play Draughts (Checkers) with any willing opponent on a massive board splayed out on the castle’s stone floor, with tealight candles in tiny jars as the playing pieces, is also available.

Wandering up the candle-lit stairs and to the lantern-lit rooftop of this gorgeous castle, you can indulge in the reading of constellations, or a lesson in celestial objects and related myths. Huge telescopes by the Astrophiles Menkalinan group are strategically placed on the rooftop for your education.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Mirrored infinite reflections

This festival also holds many excellent and educational events for children – facial expressions and wide eyes recount the story of an amazing night.

Food Fest

As with the Calabrese obsession with food, there is always some sort of food demonstration at any festival in Cosenza and tonight is no different.

With the “Food Experience” demonstration by the Macaroni Chef Corrado Rossi, watch a master at his craft (same company, different chef demonstrating as at my Cerisano exhibition). Then, indulge in a delicious picante southern Italian pasta dish (€5) or a heavenly panino draped with the local delicacy Caciocavallo (cheese) with local spicy sausage or slivers of prosciutto (5 euros). Why not wash all that down with an excellent glass of local wine at just €2.50?

Live Performances

Within the castle’s walls and also in the Atrio Garden, re-enactments of Jedi Knights cloaked in ominous black-hooded robes create mystery whilst sparring with illuminated sabres.

Mesmerising fire dancers and jugglers Fuoco & Clownerie: Francesco Cane and street artist Maria Dolores perform their Fuoco Su Notte craft, to reminiscent 1940s music. I put together a couple of videos as I really enjoyed watching these guys – quite relaxing.

See what you think of this one…

Actress/performer Tonia Mingrone curls around a suspended ring performing gymnastics and acrobatics, whilst adorned in pure white and topped with dainty angel wings: Poetic Suspensions. Only a quick taste in this very short video.


If you find yourself in Cosenza in May, definitely keep an eye out for this wonderful event as it really is worth going to, even with children. Piano B – Event Project Management have thought of everything to make this a special and memorable evening.

I am sure you will love the castle’s ambience during this festival as it is exciting but simultaneously peaceful, displaying many innovative aesthetic creations.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy.

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24 responses to “5,000 Magical Candles Illuminate Cosenza’s Medieval Castle”

  1. frejatravels Avatar

    wouw… love the photos and I love castle.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, it’s a lovely castle and a great event.

  2. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    How I would have love to have been there! So beautiful!!!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It was Valerie, especially as it was held inside an ancient castle. Sadly, I didn’t have The Beast (huge) camera with me for better low-light photos…next time. 😉

      1. Valerie Cullers Avatar

        Your pictures were still gorgeous!!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you!

  3. gillmorris Avatar

    That looks fantastic. I love all the candles, it’s just beautiful all lit up like that.. 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Gill – it is quite a magical event to go to and loads of people went this night. 🙂 x

  4. Francis.R. Avatar

    Art made for the night in a castle, it is quite epic and something I had never heard of, thank you! ^_^

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Francis, great to hear from you again! Yes, it was epic and I loved the clever way that art was interwoven with the ethereal glow of candles throughout the evening. 🙂

  5. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Great event, so suggestive and magical. The fire dancers were incredible!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Lulu! Hope I got all the names of the exhibits correct. 😉
      The fire dancers were great. I have to say, the best fire dancers I’ve seen were in Fiji. Sadly, I didn’t take a video that evening.

      1. Patty Avatar

        Good reason to visit again 😉

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Of course. 😉

  6. karenincalabria Avatar

    Very atmospheric. The castle has been under renovation when I’ve visited Cosenza in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing it some time in the future. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos of the event.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Karen, it was a lovely night.

      Renovations are completed – some look good, others a tad modern, but you may like all the renovations.

  7. Shivani Avatar

    Intriguing palace 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Very intriguing and loads on, especially in the warmer months. 🙂

  8. the eternal traveller Avatar

    What a fabulous way to spend an evening, with so much to see..

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, I missed this event last year as I found out too late but made sure I wouldn’t this year. Cosenza hosts many art and cultural events.
      The summer is great for many outdoor concerts under the stars with a warm Mediterranean breeze blowing and most are free.

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        Oh, it sounds divine.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It’s a great place to live and not touristy at all. Italy still holds hidden gems. 😉

  9. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

    Amazing and well captured Nilla. Now I need to go and finish the lawns an activity that is not as interesting as viewing those photos 🙂 Ciao.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Suz.
      I didn’t have The Beast with me just my little compaq and iPhone, so the photos aren’t the best but it gives people a taste.
      Ha, ha no rest for the wicked and glad I could give you a brief break from your work. Ciao 😉

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