Christmas is one of those topics that make me exceptionally happy & even a bit "snobby" about being German: We do the best Christmas in the world!!! It's about family & friends, traditions & togetherness, and they are not a mere expression of the customary rampant commercialism. Don't believe me? Come & see for yourself! You simply haven't "lived" Christmas until you've been to a German Xmas market!
The annual "Weihnachtsmarkt" takes place in the old town. This year's dates are: 21st Nov - 22nd Dec 2012.
We really enjoy the smell of freshly roasting Maroni (chestnuts), laughing children on the historic merry-go-round, the sizzling of Bratwurst (1/2 metre long sausage!) on the grills, and of course the steaming pots full of gorgeous Gluehwein (mulled wine).
NOTE: a mulled wine costs 2,40- You can either bring the cup back & receive 20 cent "Pfand" back, or keep the cup as a souvenir :-)
Daily from 10:00am to 09:00pm the following are THE places for pre-Xmas joy:
> Universitaetsplatz = University Square:
Over 80 stands selling food, crafts, live displays of glass blowing, etc. plus the century-old merry-go-round with organ music. This is the main Xmas area.
> Kornnmarkt (Madonna statue):
Live wood carving, basket weaving and jewellery demonstrations. Here you'll also find a small barn with donkeys & sheep for the kids to see & snuggle (poor freezing hooves!)
> Marktplatz, around the Herkulesbrunnen (fountain):
More wooden stalls with food, drink and entertainment. This is where you will find the large Heidelberg Xmas-Pyramide, spinning slowly in circles and containing figures from the city's legends & history, such as the Homo Heidelbergensis, Kurfürst Friedrich V. and Elisabeth Stuart, Liselotte of the Pfalz, Robert Bunsen, the "Student Prince" and of course wine-loving Perkeo. Here you will also find Santa's Grotto for the kids.
> CHRISTMAS ON ICE!
From 21.11.2012 - 06.01.2013 you can enjoy the open-air ice skating rink (rental available).
Three times each year residents and visitors alike can enjoy the spectacular castle illuminations & fireworks behind the scenes of the old town Heidelberg. Just after sun set the castle-lights are turned off, the fireworks are launched from the Old Bridge. This event really is worth the wait... it's specatular!
Dates for the year 2012:
-> Saturday, 2nd June 2012 - approx. 10:15pm.
-> Saturday, 14th July 2012 - approx. 10:15pm.
-> Saturday, 1st September 2012 - approx. 10:15pm.
If you want to keep yourself busy until the event starts, why not attend the concert at the Church of the Holy Spirit? This starts at 06:15pm and gets you in a romantic Heidelberg-mood... Tickets to all concerts can be purchased in advance by calling the Ticket Hotline: +49 (0)6221 - 582 0000.
The Castle Illuminations have a romantic origin: in 1613 newly-wed Prince Elector Frederic V welcomed his new wife, English princess Elizabeth Stuart, to Heidelberg. She received a royal welcome with a splendid event: our dearest, lovey-dovey and devoted prince ordered for the castle to be illuminated by bright colors, and star balls were to be seen high above the Neckar River.
Where's the best place to watch this display? Just follow the crowds! On the opposite shores of the Neckar river you'll get the best view.
Do you see the chalk marks on the top of the door? This isn't graffiti or vandalism. It's a common message to the "three kings" to come and leave presents at Christmas.