Scarcely any other German city of comparable size allows itself such a multifacetted and comprehensive program of cultural events as does Heidelberg. From the international music festival "Heidelberg Spring" to the summer Castle Festivals and the jazz festival "Enjoy Jazz" – not forgetting the Castle Illuminations in June, July, and September, and as the atmospheric Grande Finale of the year, the magical Christmas Market – Heidelberg offers a plethora of cultural delights the whole year long. In between, such insiders’ tips as the Chanson Festival "schöner lügen", the Heidelberg Bach Week, or the Heidelberg Literature Days, ensure Heidelberg’s enthusiastic residents and visitors an unending source of enrichment and pleasure.
Carambolage: cabaret and small-scale performing arts in the Karl’s Gate Railway Station
The festival for cabaret and small-scale performing arts "Carambolage" attracts all fans of intelligent entertainment into the Karl’s Gate Railway Station ("Karlstorbahnhof") at the far end of Hauptstraße. For two full weeks, laughter holds reign, with comedy, cabaret, music, and stand-up performances that feature exciting concepts and great names.
Schöner lügen – the festival for new German chanson
New German chansons and lieder with intelligent humor are presented by the inventive Doers and Shakers of "schöner lügen" each year anew. All admirers of the chanson can look forward to poetic, provocative, bizarre evenings in Heidelberg-Bergheim and the Opera Tent.
International Music Festival Heidelberg Spring
"Heidelberg Spring" is the largest music festival in the entire region, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year to the some 90 events. Heidelberg Spring is not only a festival of the "stars" - above all, it is a festival of meeting and exchange.
Heidelberg Stückemarkt (Market of Plays)
To discover and promote new playwriters is the idea behind the Heidelberg Market of Plays, an annual event for many years. Since its inception, the Market of Plays has developed into one of the most important theater festivals in the German language. With interesting new plays and their authors, and outstanding performances from other stages, a concentrated week of contemporary theater in Heidelberg awaits audiences from near and far.
On the first Saturday in June / second Saturday in July / first Saturday in September
Every year, the majestic castle ruins are again spotlighted during the traditional and unforgettable Castle Illuminations with fireworks. When night falls, the skies light up! The Neckar River and Philosophers’ Way are the best locations for watching the marvel, which starts around 10 p.m. The stage is set before each Castle Illumination with a festive concert at 6:15 p.m. in the Church of the Holy Spirit. Among the pieces performed is Händel’s Fireworks Music.
June / July
Heidelberg Castle Festival
In summer, some of the the most beautiful stages in the world are high above the town in the romantic Heidelberg Castle. The idyllic atmosphere draws visitors from around the globe, as well as townspeople, to the diverse stages and scenic backdrops of this matchless ruin. Up to 30.000 people a year attend the numerous festival productions, which range from drama, concerts and dance to operettas and arias.
The Old Town "Fall Festival" is multi-faceted. Medieval markets, handcrafters’ markets, flea markets, and an array of booths with regional culinary specialties, invite the public to stroll along and to sample the wares. A comprehensive cultural programme with theater, the art of painting, a poetry slam, readings, and live music, extends the number of ways to enjoy the all-day festival that continues on into the night.
Enjoy Jazz, International Festival for Jazz and Sundry
Each year, for seven glorious weeks, the renowned jazz festival "Enjoy Jazz" provides an autumn filled with musical highlights. Countless international greats in the world of jazz have taken part in the festival in recent years. The motto of Enjoy Jazz is its programme: to enjoy the pleasure of jazz!
Heidelberg Christmas Market
Every year at 5 p.m. on the last Wednesday in November, Heidelberg’s Christmas Market is festively opened on Market Square by the symbolic Christchild. From then on until just before Christmas, the town is aglow in the wintry enchantment of Christmastime. More than 140 booths distributed over Heidelberg’s large and small squares offer an endless variety of everything that makes the season special. The enticing aromas of regional specialities waft through the air by day and night, and a cup of hot mulled wine never fails to warms hands and hearts. For children, the carousels, sights and sounds are magical.
The castle too takes on a fairytale atmosphere with its own Castle Christmas programme.
"Christmas on Ice’’ at the foot of the castle
Daily from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., on Karl’s Square at the foot of the castle, one of the most beautiful open-air ice skating rinks in Germany welcomes skaters whether accomplished or beginners. To the soft sounds of Christmas music, residents and guests of all ages glide over the ice below the romantic, majestic background of the castle ruins.