Heidelberg Castle Illuminations
The Heidelberg Castle Illuminations is a magnificent firework show that is put on three times a year. The first fireworks, which were naturally a very simple affair, took place in June 1815 when the Austrian Emperor, the Czar and many other representatives of the high nobility were staying in Heidelberg for a number of weeks on the occasion of the "Holy Alliance" against Napoleon
In 1830 it was once again the presence of noble guests that led to a further firework show at the castle. This time, the Emperor of Austria, the Czar and the King of Prussia were in Heidelberg.
Nowadays, the Castle Illuminations take place three times a year to commemorate the destruction of Heidelberg and its castle by French troops during the War of the Palatinate Succession.
The castle is symbolically set alight. 50 fire brigade volunteers ignite Bengal fires that bathe the castle in a mysterious red light so that it appears as if the castle is on fire.
Firework dates for 2010:
Saturday, 2 June 2012
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Saturday, 1 September 2012
On each occasion, the illuminations start at 22.15h
The roads by the river will be closed off as of 21.00h.
Of course, watching the fireworks doesn't cost anything! But it's a good idea to get there early to find a good spot to see them from.
The best places to stand are down the Neckar River from the old bridge or on the Philosophers' Walk. The actual illumination of the castle, the so-called Bengal Fire with which the castle is symbolically set on fire, can only be seen from the opposite bank of the river in Neuenheim or from the Philosophers' Walk.
From 21.00h to 23.00h it's not possible to drive along both roads next to the Neckar River as they are closed to vehicles because of the huge crowds of people who are there to see the fireworks.
During the last Heidelberg Castle Illuminations in 2009, stands selling drinks and wurst were set up for the first time along the river bank in Neuenheim. Alternatively it's a good idea to bring something to eat and drink oneself. If you want to take photos, then it's also a good idea to have a steady tripod with you.
The actual fireworks on the Old Bridge don't start until the Bengal Fire has gone out. The castle itself, that is being symbolically destroyed, remains in darkness until the end of the fireworks.
Three traditional families of pyrotechnicians carry out the Castle Illuminations in turn and try out something new each time so that even regular visitors never get tired of the spectacle.
If you can plan your visit to Heidelberg so that you can also see the Castle Illuminations then you will take the experience of this unforgettable highlight of the season home with you.
Perhaps you'll be successful in taking some good photos of the Heidelberg Castle Illuminations. These ones were taken with a Pentax reflex camera, positioned on a stable tripod despite a pre-set ISO 1600
The following Heidelberg Castle Illuminations have been recorded at www.heidelberg-photo.com:
Here are only the highlights of these firework shows that lasted roughly half-an-hour.
The last Castle Illuminations in 2009 were particularly special because they took place against the backdrop of a full moon. That is why the photos on this website are arranged chronologically: you will get a good impression of the true beauty and dimensions of the Heidelberg Castle Illuminations.
As a visitor to Heidelberg in 1878, Mark Twain described the fireworks in this way:
"The towers continued to spout thick columns of rockets aloft, and overhead the sky was radiant with arrowy bolts which clove their way to the zenith, paused, curved gracefully downward, then burst into brilliant fountain-sprays of richly colored sparks."