Berlin Light Festival from River Spree

Berlin Festival of Lights from River Spree

Berlin’s autumn Festival of Lights is a spectacular ten-day show with creative displays by talented artists from all over the world. During the festival, landmarks and historic buildings are elaborately illuminated from dusk to midnight. It’s an exciting time with vivid visuals and a happy atmosphere!

Every night I’ve checked out light shows in different parts of Berlin. The weather has been clear with unseasonably warm temperatures in the 70s providing ideal viewing conditions. There are 58 different light shows presented in 60 locations (including the US Embassy). Participants include 66 artists from 25 countries!

Light Halo Anyone?

Some of the shows use projection mapping, a “presentation technology becoming increasingly popular in media art and at concerts”. The process involves projecting customized images onto three-dimensional objects. It’s spectacular to watch!

There are many fun ways to view the festival, including by hot air balloon. Saturday night I decided to watch from a different vantage point and boarded a cruise to see the colorful light projections from River Spree. The tour began at Jannowitzbrücke at 7 pm. and floated along the Spree for several hours of fun, vivid light displays!

There were 200+ people aboard the double-decker barge-like boat. I enjoyed talking with two fun guys from Australia. According to our tour commentator, the three of us and two Italians were the only non-Germans on board.


“Berlin has more bridges than Venice. Together, the German capital and the surrounding state of Brandenburg comprise Europe’s largest network of inland waterways.”



Boat traffic backed up on a busy Saturday night, so it took us some time (both ways) to pass through Mühlendamm Lock in the canal. The historic Lock is part of a causeway built in the center of the then medieval city during the 1200s.

Boats on River Spree

During the Light Festival or anytime, Berlin is amazing at night! Having experienced the nighttime view from River Spree, I’m looking forward to a daylight tour along the same water route.

Brandenburg Gate Festival of Lights


Some of the light shows use projection mapping, a “presentation technology becoming increasingly popular in media art and at concerts”.


A surprising fact about Berlin is that in addition to River Spree it has 6 other rivers and an unbelievable 1,700 bridges! The rivers account for an astonishing 80 kilometers of navigable waterways within Berlin’s city limits:

  1. Bäke River
  2. Dahme River
  3. Kindle River
  4. Havel River
  5. Panke River
  6. Tegeler River
Passing Under a Low Bridge

Passing under the lighted bridges was a giddy treat! Some of them were so low, the Captain asked people on the top deck to remain seated as the boat slipped underneath.

Berlin Cathedral Festival of Lights


“It’s said that Berlin has more waterways than Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Venice COMBINED.”


Berliners participate in the festival by making a charitable donation to Aktion Augenlicht and picking up a “Lekker Lichtbox”. Aktion Augenlicht facilitates shared experiences for blind and visually impaired people. During the light-fixed period (7 pm – 12 am), LED boxes shine in windows throughout the city. Even though my apartment faces a courtyard, I put a small light in the window :o).

Food Vendor
Light Balloons
Viewing the Light Shows from a Bicycle Taxi
Scary Reptilian
Festival of Lights from River Spree

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