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Heidelberg Castle Illumination

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Dates 2024

01. June & 07. Septembre

from 10:15 p.m. onward

Heidelberg Castle Illumination

Three times a year people from all parts of the world come to Heidelberg. The banks of the Neckar are filled on both sides and on the Phi­lo­so­phers’ Path there is hardly a place in the first row to get a view. The reason for this is the illu­mi­na­tion of the castle with the fol­lo­wing fire­works over the Neckar. There is hardly a Heidelberg resi­dent who has never expe­ri­en­ced the castle illu­mi­na­tion. Many fami­lies and other visi­tors make it almost a tra­di­tion to visit the Heidelberg Castle Illu­mi­na­ti­ons once a year.

In June, July and Sep­tem­ber of each year, the Heidelberg Castle lights up in bla­zing red. As soon as the red Bengal lights fade, the fire­works dis­play starts from the Old Bridge. The castle illu­mi­na­tion inclu­ding the fire­works takes about 15 minu­tes, but is worth every single second, even for a slightly longer journey.

Pro­ba­bly the most popu­lar places to admire the play of light in the sky are, the Nepo­muk Ter­race at the bridge end of the Neu­en­heim bank of the Neckar, the banks of the Neckar (e.g. Neckar­wiese) and the Phi­lo­so­phers’ Path. There are also places in the Old Town where you have a unique view of the fire­works. Tip: Stein­gasse leads from the Church of the Holy Spirit directly to the bridge gate, so you have a great view of the fire­works from a slightly dif­fe­rent per­spec­tive. If one then wants to have a little snack, there is a small but fine crêpes stand right at the Church of the Holy Spirit that also offers drinks.

During the days around the day of the castle illu­mi­na­tion, there is also a sup­port­ing pro­gram. For exam­ple, on the Nepo­muk Ter­race there is a small beer garden with live music on Satur­days from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sun­days from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m., and at the Korn­markt there is a small art and goods market. At the Bis­marck­platz and the Ana­tomy Garden, people get in the mood for the event from Thurs­day onwards, while shortly before the palace illu­mi­na­tion, a con­cert is given in the Church of the Holy Spirit at 6:15 pm.


Boat trip to the fireworks

For boat owners there are very spe­cial places, as there are many small boats and ships near the Old Bridge during the fire­works, which watch the spec­ta­cle from the water. But if you don’t have a boat and would still like to watch the castle illu­mi­na­tion from the water, Heidelberg’s mar­ke­ting depart­ment has put tog­e­ther a spe­cial offer.

The offer is boo­ka­ble for a maxi­mum of 14 people, for more people there are spe­cial group offers.

You get a 1.5 hour boat trip with a 3-course menu on the ” Weiße Flotte Heidelberg”, which drops anchor in front of the Old Bridge shortly before the fire­works begin. In addi­tion, there are one, two or three nights with break­fast in a room of the cate­gory com­fort or first class in a Heidelberg hotel. The cate­gory, number of nights and whe­ther you want a single or double room is of course up to you. The prices vary bet­ween 180€ and 460€ depen­ding on your decision.

In addi­tion, you will even receive the Hei­del­berg­Card for your stay, which allows you to use all public trans­port and take the moun­tain rail­way to the Mol­ke­sta­tion and the castle. You will also receive many other dis­counts and admis­sion to the castle cour­ty­ard and the German Phar­macy Museum.


Behind the whole pro­cess is of course some history. Because the glo­wing red that lights up the castle shortly before the fire­works sym­bo­li­zes not­hing else but fire. It is a remin­der of the des­truc­tion of the Heidelberg Castle in the Pala­ti­nate War of Suc­ces­sion, which lasted from 1688 to 1697. At that time French troops had set fire to the castle and parts of the city in 1689. Since this was not enough, they retur­ned to Heidelberg in 1692 and blew up the castle walls and also its towers.

The fire­works, howe­ver, remind us of a more beau­tiful part of Heidelberg’s history. On 14 Febru­ary 1613, the Elec­tor Fried­rich V. mar­ried the Eng­lish King’s daugh­ter Eli­sa­beth Stuart. When the two of them came to Heidelberg in July, Fried­rich orga­nised a big party for his bel­oved wife and fire­works to wel­come her in proper manner. Accor­ding to docu­men­ta­tion, the fire­works lasted for more than two hours.

Since 1860 the Heidelberg Castle Illu­mi­na­ti­ons take place on a regu­lar basis, but even before that there were occa­sio­nal fire­works and castle illu­mi­na­ti­ons in the city.

Traf­fic regulations

At such a big event, there are also some regu­la­ti­ons in the traf­fic, which limit the usual traf­fic routes. For exam­ple, par­king on the Old Town side around the Old Bridge is alre­ady pro­hi­bi­ted from 2 p.m. on the days when the castle illu­mi­na­tion takes place. From 5 p.m. on, the whole bridge is then closed for all traf­fic and also pede­stri­ans. In addi­tion, the B37 along the Old Town will be closed from around 9:30 p.m. and the Theo­dor Heuss Bridge for vehic­les from 10 pm. For pede­stri­ans it is still crossa­ble. Also the Zie­gel­häu­ser Land­straße, the Neu­en­hei­mer Land­straße, the Ufer­straße and the Brü­cken­kopf­straße will be par­ti­ally or com­ple­tely closed to vehicle traf­fic from 9 pm.

If you want to go from the Old Town to the Nepo­muk Ter­race or to the Phi­lo­so­phers’ Path, despite the fact that the streets and the bridge are alre­ady closed, you can use the foot­bridge at the Karls­tor­bahn­hof (Heidelberg-Alt­stadt sta­tion). From the Wehr­steg, it is only a few minu­tes’ walk to the Nepo­muk Ter­race and the Schlan­gen­weg, which leads to the Phi­lo­so­phers’ Path. For the way to the Neckar­wiese, the Theo­dor Heuss Bridge is recom­men­ded, as it ends directly at the begin­ning of the popu­lar meadow.

The public trans­port also runs dif­fer­ently than usual due to the clo­sures. This means that some sta­ti­ons, such as the bus stop Alte Brücke or Mar­stall, may be com­ple­tely can­cel­led during this period.

All clo­sures will be lifted again around 11 pm, after the end of the event. If you have arri­ved by car, you should con­sider in advance whe­ther you want to leave a little ear­lier or stay a little longer in Heidelberg. Because the spec­ta­cle always attracts a lot of visi­tors, there may be traf­fic jams due to the many guests making their way home and the dis­mant­ling work.