The 20th Donaufest to celebrate free-flowing rivers took place on the 18th of May 2023 in Niederalteich, Germany.
The reason for the first Danube Festival was a resolution passed by the Bundestag in 2002 to develop the free-flowing Danube without barriers. However, as the Bavarian state government continued to demand barrages for many years, the Danube Festival in Niederalteich was initially also intended as a protest action by conservationists and residents.
It was not until the beginning of 2013 that the Bavarian cabinet under then Prime Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) also decided to focus on a more nature-friendly expansion and the event turned into a colourful family-friendly celebration of free-flowing rivers.
The event was attended by hundreds of visitors and many official guests. One of the key speakers was Mr. Georg Frank, coordinator of the WILDisland project and Secretary General of DANUBEPARKS.
"Only when a river flows freely is there a diversity of animals and plants", said Mr. Georg Frank from DANUBEPARKS. "In addition, the free-flowing river creates inspiration for people. They are places "where we like to go", said Frank.
The honorary chairman of Bund Naturschutz, Mr. Hubert Weiger also made it clear on the fringe of the festival that the free-flowing Danube between Straubing and Vilshofen is not only a centre of biodiversity in the whole of southern Germany, but also an island of survival for many endangered species as well as a natural sewage treatment plant.
"In the free-flowing section, the water quality improves by one level, and the oxygen content in the water is also higher than elsewhere. The water can even be used as drinking water, which means that the free-flowing Danube also brings economic advantages", Weiger said.
The festival offered a very diverse programme. In addition to a Danube quiz and a Danube puzzle, there was a dance workshop and handicrafts for children. Young visitors could also climb a large lime tree near the festival tent, announced the Bavarian League for Nature Conservation. The programme also included excursions and guided tours along the free-flowing Danube, so the festival has developed over the years into a large and beloved village and family festival.