Greeting Autumn at the Heidelberger Herbstfest

People walk the Hauptstrasse, Heidelberg's pedestrianized street, at the annual Herbstfest (Autumn Fest).

What a splendid day for an autumn fest on Heidelberg’s Hauptstrasse!

With our bellies full with Neuer Wein (new wine), Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie), Bier, Bratwurst, and Thai fare, we’re now at home resting, watching all the Herbstfest revelry from our fifth-floor apartment.

The day was full watching children try their hands at archery and a Renaissance ladder climbing game; shaking our hips to traditional polka tunes and French chansons; going back in time via items at a flea market filled with sentiment and history; and brushing shoulders with old and new friends.

A slice of Zwiebelkuchen.

The musicians and men in Renaissance garb are still making their rounds, with flags, bugles and drums in hand. I think they might just call us out for round two so we can partake in more action.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • The Heidelberger Herbst festival takes place annually, on the last Saturday in September. For more information about Heidelberg, peruse Heidelberg’s tourism site.
  • Are you wondering where to stay in Heidelberg? Because of its charming atmosphere and proximity to Heidelberg’s best-known attractions, I heartily recommend choosing a hotel in, or near Heidelberg’s Old Town-core: either the Altstadt (Heidelberg’s Old Town), Bergheim district, or Neuenheim district. Restaurants, cafés and shops are nearby, and you can even go hiking in the hills in a matter of minutes. I lived in an Altstadt apartment for 10 years, and I loved being among all the action. Since I was a resident of Heidelberg, I have limited experience staying in hotels in Heidelberg. However, here are some hotels we would revisit the next time we come to Heidelberg. (Some affiliate links follow.)
    • Hotel Goldener Hecht – After our furniture was boxed up and we were preparing to leave Heidelberg, Shawn and I spent a few nights at the Goldener Hecht. We loved the central location! Heidelberg’s famous Old Bridge was just a few footsteps away, and the Heidelberg Castle was only about half a kilometer’s walk. Our room was clean, quiet, and pleasant, too.
    • Hotel zum Ritter – When Shawn and I were married in the Heidelberg Castle, some of our family and friends stayed at the Hotel zum Ritter, one of Heidelberg’s most famous buildings. The elegant Hotel Ritter is situated on the pedestrianized Hauptstrasse (Main Street), just across from the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). Even if you don’t stay there, the hotel’s gorgeous Renaissance exterior will likely catch your eye as you stroll down the Hauptstrasse.
  • Are you traveling beyond Heidelberg? My Germany guide offers more tips.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

8 thoughts on “Greeting Autumn at the Heidelberger Herbstfest

  1. I read in the paper today that nearly 130,000 people crammed into the Old Town neighborhood for this fest. We had a super time and the Heidelbergers were at their happiest with the Bier and Wein flowing! Where are you traveling next?

    1. Andrew, what wonderful destinations you’re headed to – bon voyage to you! I was in Fes about 1.5 years ago and found the tanneries really interesting. We stayed in a local’s comfortable little riad directly in the medina. Next, we’ll be embarking on an Asian sabbatical for 3.5-4 months, starting in early November. First stop is Bali and then we’ll go from there!

  2. Tricia, thanks for stopping by and liking my “Herbst in Heidelberg” post.

    I found your blog, and it looks like you had a great time at the Herbestfest on the Hauptstrasse : great photos! Your photos are making me regret not coming to Germany a few days earlier to stop by my old haunts in Heidelberg. :)

    1. Hello, Henry & thanks for your message. Wishing you all the best on your upcoming RTW trip. Actually, my husband and I are planning to do something similar through Asia in the coming weeks! Perhaps our paths might cross as we’re tiptoeing around the world snapping images. Bis später!

  3. Thank you for the great Heidelberg post and photos. I googled Heidelberg Herbstfest, since i want to visit again, and you were at the top two spots. I lived there from ages 15-19 and completely fell in love with that city and surrounding hills, villages, etc.. There is a magical feel about Heidelberg, especially on warm nights with the castle lit up, floating above the old town. Thanks again for bringing back incredible memories, and i look forward to seeing your future travels.

    1. Greg, I’m glad to hear that my Heidelberg images brought back happy memories for you! I lived in Heidelberg from 2001-2011 and also found it to be a fairy tale city! My husband and I are now on sabbatical in Southeast Asia and even though we love it here, I miss my favorite spots in Heidelberg. If you want to reminisce more about HD, you might also enjoy these below posts. Here’s hoping you’ll make it back to one of the upcoming Herbstfests. The weather was so splendid for last year’s and I’m now getting cravings for the fest food! Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Tschüss!

      Why I Adore Heidelberg

      Above the Rooftops of Heidelberg: Views From the Church of the Holy Spirit

      Snails, Wild Boar & Fairy Tales: Exploring Heidelberg’s Enchanting Forest

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