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Festival Week with Ecumenical Service, University Mile and Grand Ball

Press Release No. 164/2011
27 May 2011

Updated on 17 June 2011

625th anniversary celebrations culminate in the Festival Week: 25 June to 2 July 2011

Heidelberg University, Germany’s oldest seat of higher learning, celebrates its 625th anniversary this year. The highpoint of the anniversary year (October 2010 to 2011) is Festival Week (25 June to 2 July 2011). During this week the university has organised a variety of special events for the edification and delectation of members, alumni and friends from all over the world.

As a prelude to Festival Week there will be a concert and a fireworks display for all comers on 16 June. The concert begins at 8.30 p.m. on University Square, the fireworks at dusk. Admission is free.

The Festival Week proper begins on Saturday, 25 June with the ceremonial reopening of the New University building. The funds for the complete renovation and modernisation of the premises have come almost entirely from donations. Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science, Research and the Arts, is expected to attend the event as a substitute for Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann. At the ceremony, the newly refurbished historical organ will be heard for the first time in many years. The proceedings begin at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall of the New University. At the same time, the departments, faculties and institutions of the university will be getting ready to present themselves to the public on University Mile around University Square, extending between the Department of English and American Studies, the University Library and the Marstall. In university buildings, on courtyards and squares, the various institutes will be showcasing their achievements in research and teaching, accompanied by an entertainment programme for all ages. The first day of Festival Week ends with the Rector’s summer party, to which all the visitors to University Mile and all members and friends of the university are cordially invited. The party takes place in the historical inner courtyard of the Marstall building and provides plenty of opportunity for dancing to live music. Student Services are on hand to ensure that no one goes hungry (or thirsty). The party officially starts at 7 p.m., but the music begins at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Sunday, 26 June begins at 10 a.m. with a festive ecumenical service at Peterskirche church. The sermon will be delivered by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Huber, former chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The liturgy will be celebrated by the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, archbishop Dr. Robert Zollitsch, and Prof. Dr. Helmut Schwier, university minister at the Peterskirche.

During Festival Week, Heidelberg Alumni International (HAI) has devised a special anniversary programme for all alumni from Germany and elsewhere. It extends from 24 to 28 June and also provides ample opportunity to celebrate HAI’s own 15th anniversary. Alongside the many social events, lectures and workshops, two major highpoints stand out: the alumni anniversary party on 26 June and the traditional riverboat shuffle on 27 June.

On Monday, 27 June the prize of the Deutsche Nationalstiftung foundation will be presented to this year’s recipient in Heidelberg on the occasion of the university’s anniversary. The prize is endowed with 50,000 euros and is awarded to contemporary figures who have championed the cause of unity and reunification in Germany and Europe as a whole. Attendance is by prior registration only. For more information, go to

The year 2011 marks not only the anniversary of the university but also the 50th anniversary of the town-twinning partnership between Heidelberg and Montpellier. Accordingly, Tuesday, 28 June is Montpellier Day. Alongside festive lectures on the joint history of the two cities, there is also a special exhibition foregrounding this successful example of Franco-German partnership. The programme of events takes place in the Great Hall of the Old University (as of 10.30 a.m.) and the Town Hall of Heidelberg.

Wednesday, 29 June is Research Day 2011 at the New University. The Baden-Württemberg Stiftung foundation will be presenting groundbreaking results from its life sciences programme all over the building. Talks by prominent experts, discussion forums and an exhibition are designed to encourage exchange across subject boundaries and between institutions. Research Day begins at 8.30 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. The organisers request visitors to register at or via fax (+49 711 24847650).

“Bridging the Gaps between Cultures and Disciplines” is the title of an event organised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Heidelberg University’s Marsilius Kolleg Centre for Advanced Study on Thursday, 30 June. Concrete examples will be drawn upon to illustrate what precisely is meant by two catchwords very much in vogue at the moment in German higher-education policy: “international” and “interdisciplinary”. There will be a panel discussion involving young grant recipients of the Humbodt Foundation (BioQuant Center, 10 a.m.). Prof. Dr. T. Douglas Price of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) will deliver the Marsilius Lecture beginning at 4 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Old University.

On Friday, 1 July, the university will be awarding the Lautenschläger Research Prize for the sixth time. It is Germany’s most generously endowed research prize from a private sponsor and is conferred on outstanding international scientists or scholars who are either working at Heidelberg University or have close academic ties with it. This year's prize goes to Prof. Dr. Joachim Wittbrodt, developmental biologist at Heidelberg university.The presentation ceremony in the Great Hall of the Old University begins at 6 p.m.

On the last day of Festival Week (Saturday, 2 July) the university is inviting the Nobel Prize laureates in medicine and physiology meeting at Lindau on Lake Constance to travel up to Heidelberg for a symposium. Here they will be reporting on their lives and scientific careers (all interested are welcome to attend) and subsequently meeting with selected Heidelberg undergraduates, doctoral students and postdocs in the life sciences and secondary school-leavers from the region. The symposium at the New University begins at 10 a.m.

Festival Week culminates in a festive anniversary ball starting at 7 p.m. at the Stadthalle Heidelberg. All members, alumni and friends of the university are cordially invited to this event, which will feature high-quality entertainment and culinary delights and will end Festival Week in high style. Tickets can be booked at

For more information, go to

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