Accompanied by wine and folk festivals on the shore, Rhine in Flames brings in visitors by the hundreds of thousands to each of its five locations: Bonn, Bingen, Koblenz, Oberwesel, and St. Goar. The event takes place in each city several weeks apart, between May and September.
The tradition dates back to the 1930s, when Kunibert Oches—then director of the Landesverkehrsverbandes Nordrhein lit the 26 kilometer stretch of water between Linz and Bad Godesberg with Bengal Fire. When World War II began in 1939, the festival went on hiatus, starting again in 1948 when residents along the river decided to organize and pay for the event themselves. It was held irregularly until 1965 when Queen Elizabeth II of England herself was in attendance.
For almost two decades afterwards, Rhine in Flames was put on ice. But it was not forgotten, particularly by the owners of passenger ships on the river, who called the event back into existence in 1986. Today it is considered a “romantic and unforgettable experience” (source) that draws upwards of 300,000 visitors.
What does Rhine in Flames look like in each of its five locations? Let’s take a look at the average Rhine in Flames evening at the event’s first location: Bonn. For those who want to stay on shore or do something before the ship leaves dock in the evening, each of the Bonn Rhine in Flames’ six stopping points host festivals during the event, from Linz’s Festival on the Shores of the Rhine to Königswinter’s celebration in old town.
Just before 10 pm, the opening fireworks accompany the start of the boat parade. Ten minutes later fireworks are launched in Remagen. The boats continue down the river for another half an hour to the next display, launched from the river island of Nonnenwerth near Bad Honnef. At 10:30 pm the fireworks across from Königswinter begin, and just before 11 pm the boat parade arrives in Bonn for a large finale display on the Rhine River floodplain. Though the scenery and timing are a little different in each city, boats, festivities, and extravagant fireworks are to be expected in each location.
July 6, 2013: Rüdesheim - Bingen
August 10, 2013: Spay - Koblenz
September 14, 2013: Oberwesel
September 21, 2013: St. Goar - St. Goarshausen
For more information on the festival or to book a place on a ship, click here. Click on "images" on the photo above to see more photos of Rhine in Flames.