From the notorious Oktoberfest to the charming Christmas markets (and all of the other fun fests in between), Germany is known to have some of the best traditional events. One event that gathers thousands of spectators 5 times each year in different towns along the Rhine River, from May to September, is Rhein in Flammen- Das Original (or Rhine in Flames- The Original). Rhine in Flames' main feature is the fireworks display that illuminates the beautiful Rhine River.
Each of the 5 towns (Bonn, Ruedesheim, Spay/Koblenz, Oberwesel, and St. Goar/St. Goarhausen) perform a different show with its own characteristics which will make you want to go back each year to see what the next town over has to offer.
As the night becomes dark, the street lights dim, and the castles begin to appear as if they were "burning", all that's left is the pitch dark river and the stars above. Moments later, a narrators voice appears and echoes across the valley as the Rhine river begins to appear in flames. At this time, viewers alike reach for their cameras and cell phones (including myself) and their eyes seem to lit up as they watch this stunning performance.
Other than a traditional New Years firework display, you won't see anything like this during the rest of the year in Germany. Of course, there are also other towns that have replicated this event, but it doesn't come close to being at a "Night of a Thousand Fires" such as the one in Oberwesel!
When I meet new friends here in Germany and we're on the topic of traveling, Rhine in Flames usually comes up.
"You haven't heard of Rhine in Flames?" I ask astoundingly.
"Wait, what is Rhine in Flames?" is usually how they reply with a puzzled look on their face. That's when I break out the brochures, pamphlets, photo albums- ok, not really but I mostly get them hyped with my iPhone photos anyway!
To me, personally, this is an unforgettable and romantic event to attend with your loved one and/or family members. The views along the Rhine River are spectacular but the experience itself is majestic and an occasion that shouldn't be missed. The romantic part of it- well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
If a large firework display synchronized with music doesn't excite you, then the accompanying wine or folklore festival will! Typically, you'll find that the locals will have any excuse to enjoy a day of festing (I surely appreciate their thinking).
I once went to the Rhein in Flammen event in St. Goar in 2014 where my girlfriends and I drank 1 Euro wines in smaller-than-normal wine glasses with - get this - a wine glass necklace! Seriously, you just hold wine by the glass around your neck, which can be neat but also can be messy if you're not drinking your wine. There were wine drinking participants staggering and of course were the ones who definitely didn't need a wine glass necklace.
This last weekend, I attended the Rhine in Flames event in Oberwesel which is only a short drive or train ride from St. Goar. This time, wine was not 1 Euro, instead the glass was an actual full sized wine glass and the deposit was 2.50 Euro. Most of the wines varied from 2 Euro to 5 Euro a glass depending on which type you're wanting (hint: try the Eiswein, you won't be disappointed in the wine but maybe in the size of the glass).
If you're the spontaneous type, listen up here! Go camping for this event. Don't book an AirBnb, instead go get yourself a tent, a sleeping bag and camp right in front of the Rhine River. My husband and I were worried that with such a large crowd for the event that there wouldn't be enough space on the camp grounds for our little tent, but we were wrong! I emailed the camp grounds called Loreleyblick Campingplatz and was told that there would be sufficient space for anyone to camp that weekend. As easy as it sounds, we packed up our car and showed up at the camp site early enough to pitch our tent right by the river!
Ok, maybe a 4 hour drive isn't always that easy, but it was definitely worth it!
Where we camped at was not where the event had taken place (at least not during this past weekend). Instead, we parked our car at the camp grounds in front of our tent and walked over to the St. Goar bahnhof to take a short train ride to Oberwesel where Rhein in Flammen was being performed on the 9th of September. The ticket was about 2 Euro and some change just one way and the ride itself was less than 5 minutes. This beats having to circle around the town looking for parking but I must admit, the train ride back was a miserable 5 minutes with all the drunks packed like sardines on the same train!
Overall, to be able to camp right in front of the river was really nice and would say is probably a better experience than staying in a hotel or AirBnB for this trip. If you're thinking about that one last trip to take prior to your departure of this beautiful country, be sure to make it to one of the Rhein in Flammen events! You'll head off to your next location yapping to everyone about it!
If you're looking to plan a trip for next year, here are the following dates for 2018:
Bonn - 5 May
Ruedesheim - 8 July
Spay Koblenz - 11 August
Oberwesel - 8 September
St. Goar/St. Goarhausen - 15 September