Photo by ulfklose
The seaside area of Warnemunde is a few miles north of central Rostock on the Baltic Sea. The harbour is lined with various fishing and excursion boats as well as plenty of colourful shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. The New Years Day Laser Show is an annual event that organisers claim attracts up to 70,000 people. When I first heard about the show, the thought of an open air show on the Baltic Coast on 1st January didn’t seem like the greatest idea in the world but as so many people regularly attend it, the weather couldn’t be as bad as I feared. From our base in central Rostock, we took the S-Bahn (local train) up to Warnemunde. The 20 minute journey cost around 2.50EUR return which was pretty reasonable even with the horrendous Sterling / Euro exchange rate. The station at Warnemunde is just across a small bridge from the restaurants, hotels and cobbled streets of Warnemunde.
Warnemunde, Northern Germany
The focal point of Warnemunde is the lighthouse which is located where the promenade meets the end of the harbour area. From this point, the promenade and sandy beach stretch out to the west. Most of the buildings along the sea front only have a couple of storeys with the exception of the Hotel Neptun, a favourite of the old East German hierarchy. Today there is a disco on the top floor which would offer a great view of the laser show. In the summer, the roof slides back so you can dance (and drink) the night away in the open air.
With tens of thousands of visitors expected at Warnemunde, there were plenty of little stalls set up selling seasonal hot drinks and snacks. The attitude to fireworks in the area is very different to the one we have in the UK. Everyone seemed to be carrying an array of fireworks, rockets, sparklers and some sort of lantern which would float off to heights of several hundred feet. Rockets were being set off from any spare bit of beach that could be found. They were being set off from being stuck in the sand, the necks of champagne bottles and on several occasions, out of people’s hands.
Although it was light when we arrived at Warnemunde, it wasn’t long before dusk so we soon found a decent spot on the promenade, not far from a stall selling mulled wine, hot chocolate (with or without rum) and other hot, festive drinks. The temperature was around -1 Celsius but there was no wind so it wasn’t too bad although the roof at the Hotel Neptun was firmly closed.
New Years Day Fireworks at Warnemunde
Prior to the Laser Show, music was pumped out to the ever growing crowd as the a local radio show broadcast live from the stage set up by the lighthouse. It had been dark for about 90 minutes when the Laser Show started at 6pm. For the next 20 minutes, we were treated to a fantastic show. The laser beams moved up and down breaking through the smoke from the constant fireworks – official ones. Search lights lit up the lighthouse with a kaleidoscope of colours as a stunning array of fireworks lit up the sky silhouetting the lighthouse. As the show neared its end, the lasers danced to the music of Tchaikovsky until the finale as the lighthouse lit up the year “2009”.
With that, the crowd applauded and cheered then just as quickly started to head off. Many people stayed in Warnemunde to continue their evening of merriment whilst others like us, headed back to the station to catch the S-Bahn back into Rostock.