This is a little out dated due to being without internet. Regardless, it’s a good warning piece should you ever find yourself in Heidelberg on NYE.
I have certainly never seen anything like the streets on New Year’s Eve in Heidelberg. We went to a friend’s apartment, and around 11:30 at night, we all walked down to the river to see fireworks. Little did I know, we would be right in the middle of a firework frenzy.
To me, Germany has seemed very organized, safe, and orderly. NYE must be the exception when all practical reasoning surrounding the order is disregarded and craziness is allowed to ensue.
As we walked down the side street to the river, groups of people were lighting off firecrackers and fireworks right in the historic street. We had to get off the sidewalk a few times to avoid the things that were being shot into the air. I felt so nervous for the historic buildings, for the spectators standing so close to their fireworks, and well, for me, too.
Once we reached the river, it was not what I was expecting at all. From the little I had heard, I thought there would be an organized city firework show over the castle. Instead, the city streets were a free for all for people to shoot off their own fireworks into the sky. I’m not talking about small-scale lighters. No, these were city-show-sized fireworks being shot off right next to you going into the city neighborhoods or into the river (which, by the way, happened to have boats on it).
We met up with more friends for a champagne toast as I tried to stay away from strangers who might light a firework at any moment. A few houses down, some people produced a 20-minute show right off their balcony.
The Germans we were with asked us if NYE was like this in the U.S. “No way,” we replied. “Fireworks like this are illegal in most states.”
“Really?” they asked, “I thought it was the home of the free.”
I’m not sure why this type of behavior is legal in Germany, but maybe it’s because I come from the home of “I’ll sue you if that thing hits me or my property…”
Despite the danger, I was able to realize a change in this New Year’s Eve compared to all others I have celebrated: we didn’t know exactly when it was midnight. By watching the NYC Times Square ball drop every year on TV, I have always known when to shout, “Happy New Year!” In Heidelberg, fireworks were going off well before midnight and for quite a while afterward. So, everyone looked down at their phones and kind of picked a time to open the champagne and declare it the New Year. It wasn’t the same, but it made me realize that there are different kinds of NYE celebrations from the kind the people in my Eastern Time zone enjoy each year.
It was nice to experience a different NYE in a different part of the world. Though, I could do with a little less firework danger. I generally like to keep all of my limbs as I enter a new year.