For the people in Darmstadt, Germany, the Heinerfest is nothing new. Over the years, Heinerfest has become synonymous with festivities and merriment and is the most awaited festival in summer. During the 1st week of July, people in and around Darmstadt come in multitudes to the city centre to enjoy and participate in the celebrations. But one may wonder why this festival is celebrated. This year, in 2023, the festival is being celebrated between the 29th of June and the 3rd of July.
Here is a brief history:
Why is Heinerfest celebrated?
The story of the Heinerfest goes like this:
In 1950 – six years after the devastating bombing raid on Darmstadt during the 2nd world War, the city was still in rubble. The devastation all around them made the people sad and depressed. At this time, a proposal for a festival was created. The thought behind it was that a festival would bring the much-needed cheer, joy, and happiness that the people had been deprived of for many years. An appeal was made to the public to vote for a name for this festival. With the majority voting for the name ‘‘Heinerfest,” a new festival was born.
The first Heinerfest, in the year 1951, was about remembrance and mourning. But it also brought the great joy of finally coming together and celebrating again. It started on a Friday evening with a concert in the Darmstadt market area, which created a festive atmosphere and marked the beginning of more festivities in the coming days.
Do check out the photos from all the previous Heinerfests here.
The festival’s highlight was the arrival of the people from Darmstadt who had been evacuated during the war. On Heinerfestmontag, they were welcomed. Each of the 900 evacuees received four vouchers worth DM 0.50 each, which could be handed in anywhere on the festival site – a forerunner of today’s Heinerfest tokens.
Since then, the Heinerfest has been celebrated in Darmstadt every year around the same time. For five successive days, the mood is of joy and merriment, with people from in and around Darmstadt flocking to the city centre to participate in the celebrations. On the Heinerfest days, the city centre transforms into a fairground, the roads become pedestrian zones, and open spaces give way to food and game stalls.
What can one expect at the Heinerfest?
There are plenty of rides for the young & the old; for the fun-loving & the daring ones.
2. Game and Food Stalls
Game stalls ranging from shooting balloons, darts, and car racing keep alternating, with food stalls offering a wide range of food and drinks lining the streets.
Performances by groups belonging to different clubs ( die Vereine ) attract huge crowds. Some of the popular ones this year were Circus Waldoni and Bollywood dance by the students of TU.
4. Entertainment and other activities
In addition, there are activities for small kids, like street performances and magic shows. For families, senior citizens as well as youngsters, there are many programs like performances by live bands in Herrngarten, a Cycling tour by the Darmstadt Greeters, free guided tours, and live musical performances in the Schlossgraben, and much more to entertain and engage.
5. Access to Ludwigsturm
During Heinerfest, access to the Ludwigsturm in Luisenplatz is open. One can buy a ticket near the tower and climb a series of 172 steps to reach the viewing platform, from where one can enjoy lovely views of the city. Here are some pictures taken in the Heinerfest of 2023.
Information worth obtaining before you plan a visit:
1. All the information related to the Heinerfest can be obtained from their official website:
2. The ‘Program’ page can help you plan your visit. It shows all the activities along with their dates and timings. https://www.darmstaedterheinerfest.de/programm/
3. Also, consider buying the Heiner Taler, through which you can save 1 Euro for every 10 Euros you spend at the fest. Details are available here:
4. It is best to reach the city centre using public transport as finding a car parking space can become a nightmare. Consider buying the RMV Heinerfest ticket, in which you can pay once and travel all five days. The stalls are around Luisenplatz, Karolinenplatz, Friedenplatz, and Marktplatz along the road leading to the Woog. It is best to alight at Luisenplatz or Schloss stop.
5. The Heinerfest is also a wonderful opportunity to taste regional wines. The wine producers from around Darmstadt bring their special wines, which the visitors can enjoy.
6. If interested, you can also become a part of the Förderverein ( The club) that manages and organizes the fest. The details are available here:
With over 700,000 people visiting Darmstadt, the Heinerfest is a huge success and very popular not just amongst people in Darmstadt but also among people from other parts of the country.
To read about interesting places and events in Darmstadt, click here.
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